Plaintiffs-appellants-cross-appellees Luther M. Ragin, Jr., Deborah Fish Ragin, Renaye Cuyler, Jerome F. Cuyler and the Open Housing Center ("OHC") appeal from a judgment entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Sweet, J.) after a bench trial with an advisory jury. The plaintiffs commenced this action for damages and injunctive relief in August of 1988, alleging that defendant-appellee-cross-appellant Harry Macklowe Real Estate Company ("HMRE") and HMRE's sole owner and president, defendant-appellee-cross-appellant Harry Macklowe, violated section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c) (1988) (the "FHA" or the "Act"). The gravamen of the plaintiffs' complaint was that the defendants' placement of display advertising for residential apartments in The New York Times violated the Act's prohibition against racial discrimination in residential housing advertising because all the models portrayed in the advertisements were white.
After a fourteen-day trial, the advisory jury recommended: that only HMRE be found liable for violating the Act; that each individual plaintiff receive $25,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress; that the OHC receive $100,000 in compensatory damages for the resources it was required to allocate to counteract the effects of the defendants' advertisements; and that HMRE be required to pay $62,500 in punitive damages to the plaintiffs. On August 25, 1992, the district court issued an opinion: finding that both HMRE and Macklowe violated the Act; awarding each individual plaintiff $2500 in compensatory damages for emotional distress; and awarding the OHC $20,000 in compensatory damages for the resources it was required to allocate to counteract the effects of the defendants' advertisements. See Ragin v. Harry Macklowe Real Estate Co., 801 F.Supp. 1213, 1230-34 (S.D.N.Y. 1992). The district court declined to award punitive damages but entered an injunction prohibiting the defendants from violating the Act by using display advertising that indicated a racial preference.
In its August 25 opinion, the district court directed the parties to "[s]ubmit judgments on notice." 801 F.Supp. at 1236. Both parties subsequently submitted proposed judgments based on the court's opinion. Each judgment included a provision contemplating further proceedings to determine if attorneys' fees would be awarded. In October of 1992, the district court entered a judgment in accordance with its decision. The judgment granted costs and disbursements to the plaintiffs but, in accordance with an order dated October 19, 1992 denying counsel fees, omitted any fee award.
In their appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the district court erred in: calculating the amount of compensatory damages; declining to award punitive damages; issuing a weaker injunction than they requested; and declining to award them attorneys' fees. In their cross appeal, the defendants argue that the district court erred in finding that the plaintiffs had standing to sue in federal court and in finding that the defendants violated the Act. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court's findings with respect to standing, liability and damages, leave the injunction undisturbed and reverse and remand on the issue of attorneys' fees.
Miner '56, Roger J., "Ragin v. Harry Macklowe Real Estate Co., 6 F. 3d 898 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1993" (1993). Circuit Court Opinions. 387.