The opinion of the court was delivered by: RUBEN CASTILLO, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Diane Link Wallace, Angela Maples, Lisa Taylor, Mary
E. Sistrunk, Pandora Meadors, and Annie Smith*fn1
("Plaintiffs") have moved to certify the following class:
All present and former public housing residents who
moved or will be moved out of [Chicago Housing
Authority ("CHA")] public housing using a Housing
Choice Voucher (also known as a Section 8 Certificate
or a Section 8 Voucher), and who, on or after October
1, 1999, have been, continue to be, or will be
adversely affected by Defendants' and their agents'
segregative and discriminatory actions, policies, and
practices, as alleged in the Plaintiffs' first
(R. 37-1, Pls.' Mot. at 1.) This proposed general class contains
two subclasses: (1) former CHA residents who were initially
relocated after October 1, 1999, the effective date of the
Relocation Rights Contract; and (2) CHA residents who will
relocate from public housing but have not yet done so. (Id.) For the reasons set forth herein, we grant
Plaintiffs' motion with modification.
Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit on behalf of a class of current
and former CHA residents seeking declaratory and injunctive
relief from CHA's alleged policy and practice of displacing CHA
tenants from public housing to make way for mixed-income
communities. (R. 14, First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-6.) Plaintiffs allege
that in addition to displacing Plaintiffs from public housing,
CHA has a policy and practice of failing to provide adequate
relocation services or providing relocation services that
effectively or openly steer Plaintiffs into racially and
economically segregated neighborhoods. (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs
allege that as a result of these illegal policies, the displaced
Plaintiffs are now living in neighborhoods "characterized by high
poverty, high crime, poor schools and poor municipal services."
On December 23, 2003, we dismissed counts four, eleven, and
twelve of the amended complaint which alleged, respectively,
violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000d, violations of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real
Property Acquisition Act of 1970, and breach of the Moving to
Work Agreement between CHA and the United States Department of
Housing and Urban Development. Wallace, 298 F. Supp. 2d at 725.
We also held that Plaintiffs' Fair Housing Act ("FHA") claims
were limited by the FHA's two-year statute of limitations to any
acts that occurred after January 23, 2001. Id. at 717. We noted
that we might reconsider that holding if Plaintiffs could
establish that their suit is premised on "pattern-or-practice"
claims that could avoid the running of the statute of limitations
under a continuing-violations theory. Id. at 717 n. 1. Our opinion
stated, however, that "even were we to accept a continuing
violations theory . . . we would hold that it would start
running, at the earliest, from October 1, 1999 the date on
which CHA became contractually bound and otherwise obligated
under federal law to provide relocation services."*fn3 Id.
On January 21, 2004, Plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider
our statute of limitations holding regarding their FHA claims.
(R. 31.) Upon reconsideration, we found that the Complaint
adequately alleges that Plaintiffs' disparate impact, racial
steering, and perpetuation of segregation claims under the FHA
are based on a continued pattern or practice that extends into
the statute of limitations period. Wallace v. Chi. Housing
Auth., 321 F. Supp. 2d 968, 974-75 (N.D. Ill. 2004). We
declined, however, to reconsider our holding that the Relocation
Rights Contract is an intervening event that interrupts the
alleged pattern or practice of illegal conduct. Id. at 975. As
a result, we held that any acts that occurred prior to October 1,
1999 could not be considered as part of the alleged pattern or
practice of FHA violations. Id.
A party seeking certification of a class must demonstrate that
the proposed class meets all of the requirements of Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 23(a): (1) the class is so numerous that
joinder of the class members is impracticable (numerosity); (2)
there are questions of law or fact common to the class
(commonality); (3) the claims or defenses of the class
representatives are typical of the claims or defenses of the
class as a whole (typicality); and (4) the representatives will
fairly and adequately protect the class interests (adequacy).
Williams v. Chartwell Fin. Servs., Ltd., 204 F.3d 748, 760 (7th Cir. 2000). Even if the
proposed class meets the Rule 23(a) prerequisites, the moving
party must demonstrate that the class satisfies at least one of
the Rule 23(b) requirements as well. Id.; see also Hispanics
United of DuPage Cty. v. Village of Addison, Ill.,
160 F.R.D. 681, 686 (N.D. Ill. 1995).
The Court has broad discretion to determine whether a proposed
class meets the Rule 23 certification requirements. See Uhl v.
Thoroughbred Tech. and Telecomm., Inc., 309 F.3d 978, 985 (7th
Cir. 2002). In making this determination, the Court recognizes
that Rule 23(a) should be liberally construed to support its
policy of favoring the maintenance of class actions. King v.
Kansas City S. Indus., Inc., 519 F.2d 20, 25-26 (7th Cir. 1975).
The Court also retains broad power to modify the definition of a
proposed class if it believes that the proposed definition is
inadequate. Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed Sav. Bank,
162 F.R.D. 322, 328-29 (N.D. Ill. 1995); Metro. Area Housing
Alliance v. U.S. Dep't of Housing and Urban Dev., 69 F.R.D. 633,
638 n. 7 (N.D. Ill. 1976).
Plaintiffs assert in their motion that the proposed general
class and two proposed subclasses meet all of the Rule 23(a)
requirements and qualify under Rule 23(b)(2), which permits class
certification where "the party opposing the class has acted or
refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class,
thereby making appropriate final injunctive relief or
corresponding declaratory relief with respect to the class as a
whole." (R. 37, Pls.' Mot. at 2.) CHA objects to the
certification of Plaintiffs' proposed general class and both
sub-classes. Before we can determine whether this class meets the
Rule 23 criteria, we must consider two thorny threshold issues.
First, we must address whether the claims of plaintiffs who
relocated from public housing prior to October 1, 1999 are untimely and
therefore not subject to certification. Second, we will determine
whether a class of potential plaintiffs who initially relocated
prior to October 1, 1999 and did not move using a Housing Choice
Voucher after October 1, 1999 is sufficiently definite to support
certification. Only when these matters are settled will we
consider the application of Rule 23 to Plaintiffs' proposed
I. Timeliness: Tenants Who Initially Moved Prior to October 1,
Whether the pre-October 1, 1999 CHA tenants can be included in
the proposed class based on discriminatory acts that occurred
after October 1, 1999 is the central point of controversy in the
extensive briefing tendered to the Court on the motion for class
certification. The controversy stems from the parties' divergent
interpretations of our previous holdings regarding the
application of the statute of limitations to Plaintiffs' FHA
claims. Defendants argue that pursuant to our holdings, all
potential plaintiffs who left public housing prior to October 1,
1999 are time-barred. (R. 42, Def.'s Resp. at 9-13.) Plaintiffs
argue, on the other hand, that under our previous decisions
"Plaintiffs are properly within the class if they were harmed
since October 1, 1999 by CHA's pattern or practice of
discriminatory relocation services." (R. 44, Pls.' Reply at 3.)
Because a proposed class must be limited to plaintiffs with
timely claims, Movement for Opportunity and Equal v. General
Motors Corp., 622 F.2d 1235, 1248 (7th Cir. 1980), and because
we have broad discretion to interpret our previous orders,
Hastert v. Ill. State Bd. of Election Comm'ers, 28 F.3d 1430,
1438 (7th Cir. 1993), we will resolve this controversy before
turning to the Rule 23 analysis.
In our opinion addressing Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider, we
found that Plaintiffs had alleged a pattern-or-practice theory
for their racial segregation, perpetuation of segregation, and disparate impact claims under the FHA based on Defendants'
conduct from 1995 until the present. Wallace, 321 F.Supp.2d at 973-75.
We held, however, that the Relocation Rights Contract
constitutes an intervening event that interrupts the pattern or
practice of CHA's allegedly illegal conduct. Id. at 975. As a
result, Plaintiffs' continuing-violation theory can only extend
back to the date of that intervening event. Id. We held that
any acts that occurred before October 1, 1999 are not part of the
continuing violation under Plaintiffs' pattern-or-practice theory
and therefore are time-barred. Id. We also held that "any acts
that occurred after October 1, 1999 that comprise part of an
alleged pattern or practice of FHA violations are actionable."
In our reconsideration opinion, we indicated that parties who
relocated prior to October 1, 1999 but who moved again after that
date may have timely claims. Id. at 975 n. 5. Specifically, we
noted that because Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that Ms.
Sistrunk relocated after that date and continued to end up in
segregated neighborhoods, she had a claim based on acts that are
part of the continuum of the alleged pattern or practice that
dates back to October 1, 1999. Id. We recognize that potential
plaintiffs who initially relocated before October 1, 1999 are not
included in the Relocation Rights Contract. (R. 42, Def.'s Resp.
at 13.) The key question, however, is not simply whether
potential plaintiffs are subject to the Relocation Rights
Contract. Rather, the timeliness question hinges on whether