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Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 9, 2013

DOROTHY GAUTREAUX, et al., Plaintiffs,


MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge.

Presently before us is a motion for reassignment filed by Defendant Chicago Housing Authority ("CHA"), (Dkt. No. 416), asking that we accept reassignment of a newly-filed case currently pending before Judge Gettleman, Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council, et al. v. Chicago Housing Authority, et al. (Case No. 13 C 3642). CHA contends that, pursuant to Local Rule 40.4, the Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council (" Cabrini-Green LAC ") case should be reassigned as related to the Gautreaux case. CHA also argues that the reassigned case should then be dismissed, with leave for plaintiffs, including the Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council ("LAC"), to seek to intervene on this matter in Gautreaux. [1] While the Gautreaux plaintiffs agree with CHA, LAC and the individual plaintiffs object. For the reasons set forth below, we grant the motion in part, and deny it in part. We order reassignment of the case, but we decline to order dismissal of the Cabrini-Green LAC complaint at this time.


In 1966, African-American tenants of, and applicants for, public housing filed actions against the CHA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging that they had unconstitutionally engaged in discrimination by selecting sites for public housing based on the racial makeup of the surrounding communities. In the early stages of the litigation, both agencies were found to have discriminated "by selecting housing project sites in predominantly black neighborhoods and by using racial quotas to limit the number of blacks in housing projects in predominantly white neighborhoods." Gautreaux v. Pierce, 690 F.2d 616, 619 (7th Cir. 1982). Specifically, in 1969, United States District Court Judge Austin granted summary judgment in favor of the Gautreaux plaintiffs. Gautreaux v. Chi. Housing Auth., 296 F.Supp. 907, 909, 913-15 (N.D. Ill. 1969). He then "entered a remedial decree that was designed to ban racially discriminatory site selection and tenant assignment policies and to undo the harm that had already occurred." Gautreaux v. Chi. Housing Auth., 491 F.3d 649, 651-52 (7th Cir. 2007); Gautreaux v. Chi. Housing Auth., 304 F.Supp. 736, 737 (N.D. Ill. 1969).

Pursuant to the remedial decree, we retain jurisdiction to enter orders involving the construction, implementation, modification, or enforcement of the judgment. Over the decades, we have modified the judgment decree "several times to reflect changes in neighborhoods, circumstances and community housing needs." Gautreaux v. Chi. Housing Auth., 475 F.3d 845, 847 (7th Cir. 2007). We continue to address issues raised by the parties and intervenors with respect to the 1969 judgment and various related agreements entered into over the years. Such issues typically include CHA's plans to renovate, rehabilitate, or build public housing locations throughout the City of Chicago.

In particular, we have previously addressed the Receiver's and CHA's plans to renovate the Cabrini-Green site. On September 12, 2000, we authorized revitalization of the Cabrini-Green site as part of the Near North Revitalizing Area. ( See Dkt. No. 416-1, Ex. E.) We ordered the Receiver (in place at that time, though no longer) to arrange for development within that area of a certain minimum number of housing units "by lease, new construction or otherwise." ( Id. ¶ 3.) At that time, we recognized that LAC had interests related to the redevelopment of the Cabrini-Green site and that decisions in Gautreaux might, as a practical matter, impair those interests. ( See Dkt. No. 416-1, Ex. F.) We thus granted an agreed motion allowing LAC to intervene in Gautreaux as needed to protect its interests.

In its new lawsuit before Judge Gettleman, LAC[2] challenges CHA's plan to redevelop the Francis Cabrini Rowhouses. The Rowhouses are one of four sections comprising the former Cabrini-Green development. (LAC Compl. ¶ 40.) They are located on the blocks between Oak Street to the north, Chicago Avenue to the south, Larrabee to the west, and Hudson to the east. ( Id . ¶ 41.) The Rowhouses are immediately adjacent to other sections of Cabrini-Green that fall within the Near North Revitalizing Area. (Mot., Ex. G (map of the area).)

In 2000, CHA announced a Plan for Transformation that, among other things, contemplated rehabilitation of the Rowhouses. (LAC Compl. ¶ 1.) CHA's initial plan was to rehabilitate the Rowhouses, rather than tear them down, and to maintain them as 100% public housing. ( Id. ¶¶ 2, 46.) In the intervening years, CHA notified residents of the Rowhouses of the need to move pending rehabilitation of the homes. The residents complied, and hundreds of them have a right to return to the Rowhouses when the work is complete. ( Id. ¶¶ 2, 49, 51.) Although CHA planned four phases for the rehabilitation, only one has yet occurred. ( Id. ¶¶ 3, 47, 53.)

On September 15, 2011, CHA announced that it no longer supported redevelopment of the Rowhouses as 100% public housing. ( Id. ¶¶ 4, 60.) Instead, CHA intends to turn the Rowhouses into mixed-income housing. ( Id. ¶¶ 4, 60-61.) The mixed-income plan likely means that CHA would designate no more than one-third of the units for public housing. ( Id. ¶ 62.) According to LAC, this approach will reduce the number of units available for public housing residents in the Near North, forcing former Rowhouse residents to relocate to high-poverty, segregated areas of Chicago. ( Id. ¶¶ 65-71.) LAC contends that CHA's decision to convert the Rowhouses to mixed-income housing perpetuates segregation and violates various statutes and executive orders. ( Id. ¶¶ 79-99.) LAC seeks injunctive relief preventing CHA from converting the Rowhouses into anything less than 100% public housing. ( Id. ¶ IX, A.)

In the pending motion, CHA asks that we reassign the Cabrini-Green LAC action to the Gautreaux case as related, pursuant to Local Rule 40.4. CHA further asks that we dismiss Cabrini-Green LAC, without prejudice as to LAC's right to seek leave to intervene in Gautreaux. As CHA points out, we employed this approach in a somewhat similar scenario in 1999. ( See Mot., Ex. K (11/5/99 Min. Order).) LAC opposes both reassignment and dismissal.


Pursuant to Local Rule 40.4, we may accept reassignment of a case not randomly assigned to us, under certain circumstances, so long as the cases are related. The first step in this analysis requires the movant to demonstrate that the cases are related. Cases are deemed related where: "(1) the cases involve the same property; (2) the cases involve some of the same issues of fact or law; (3) the cases grow out of the same transaction or occurrence; or (4) in class action suits, one or more of the classes involved in the cases is or are the same." Id. at 40.4(a). Local Rule 40.4(a) "does not require complete identity of issues in order for cases to be considered related, " Fairbanks Capital Corp. v. Jenkins, 02 C 3930, 2002 WL 31655277, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 25, 2002), rather it is enough that the two cases "involve some of the same issues of fact or law, " Lawrence E. Jaffe Pension Plan v. Household Int'l., Inc., 02 C 5893, 2003 WL 21011757, at *3 (N.D. Ill. May 5, 2003). See also Global Patent Holdings, LLC v. Green Bay Packers, Inc., No. 00 C 4623, 2008 WL 1848142, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 23, 2008); Clark v. Ins. Car Rentals Inc., 99 F.Supp.2d 846, 848 (N.D. Ill. 1999).

If the cases are indeed related, we consider whether the circumstances warrant reassignment. Related cases should be reassigned only if:

(1) both cases are pending in this Court; (2) the handling of both cases by the same judge is likely to result in a substantial saving of judicial time and effort; (3) the earlier case has not progressed to the point where designating a later filed case as related would be likely to delay the proceedings in the earlier case ...

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