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Hanrahan and Farrell Obtain Dismissal on Behalf of Housing Authority

June 1, 2022

Cathy Hanrahan (Partner-Washington, DC) and Kevin Farrell (Of Counsel-Washington, DC) prevailed on a motion to dismiss filed on behalf of a local housing authority in a case in which the owners of apartment buildings alleged the firm’s client breached its contractual duty to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements for determining reasonable rents and corresponding rent subsidies owed to the plaintiffs as part of their participation in a federal housing voucher program. Cathy and Kevin demonstrated that the plaintiffs’ claims fail because the authority participates in the congressionally-approved “Moving to Work” program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that gives local public housing authorities the flexibility to craft their own procedures for the administration of the housing voucher program. In a case of first impression with national implications, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the judgment, and rejected the plaintiffs’ preemption arguments. The Court of Appeals found that the authority owes no duty to the owners to follow the federal requirements because they were waived in the “Moving to Work” program agreements, and nothing in the Housing Assistant Payments contracts between the owners and the authority abrogates the waiver.

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