MCCRORY, Ark. — A city in east-central Arkansas has settled a federal lawsuit brought by a national civil rights organization over an attempt to ban mobile homes worth less than $7,500.
The McCrory City Council passed its ban in September 2016, but repealed it in January after Equal Justice Under the Law filed its lawsuit on behalf of a couple who had been told they would have to move from their $1,500 mobile home. The Tuesday settlement totaled just over $20,000, Stephanie Storey, spokeswoman for Equal Justice, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Equal Justice Under the Law, which sued on behalf of David Watlington and Lindsey Hollaway, contended the ordinance was wealth-based discrimination. The ordinance imposed a fine of between $50 and $500 a day.
“This settlement is a victory for Lindsey, David and impoverished people everywhere,” Phil Telfeyan, executive director of Equal Justice, a five-member legal team that represents people for free in cases related to wealth-based discrimination, said. “No one should fear being chased out of their hometown simply because they are too poor to afford a more expensive residence.”
After McCrory repealed the ban, Mike Mosley, an attorney for the city, filed a motion to dismiss the couple’s case, arguing that the threat of harm was gone due to the council’s repeal. But Equal Justice argued that the repeal could be seen as an attempt to evade review by a federal court and that the city could potentially create a similar ordinance in the future. The attorneys also argued that the couple had made some initial efforts to move and were due damages.
Mosley declined to comment to the newspaper.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com