A federal appeals court ruled November 2 that a district court erred when it dismissed a disability discrimination complaint against one of the nation’s leading real estate lenders.
In December 2012, the Disability Rights Legal Center and Brancart and Brancart filed a federal lawsuit against Quicken Loans Inc. on behalf of Ricardo Gomez, a Social Security Disability Insurance benefits recipient. When Gomez applied for a loan, the company allegedly demanded that he provide medical documentation of his disability, in addition to information on his SSDI benefits and credit history.
The lawsuit asserts that the medical inquiry was unlawful, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the California Employment and Housing Act and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act.
“My FICO score is 800 plus, my loan to value ratio is less than 40 percent, any my income is sufficient to service my mortgage payment,” Gomez said in a news release [PDF] when the lawsuit was filed. “Any non-disabled applicant meeting these standards would be approved and funded in a nanosecond.”
In April 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Central District for California dismissed the claim. The Department of Justice filed an amicus brief on Gomez’s behalf.
Quicken Loan argued that the medical documentation was necessary for it to determine Gomez’s creditworthiness. While the District Court agreed with this argument, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit disagreed.
Specifically, it found that both the Fair Housing Act and ECOA barred such inquiries, noting that Gomez’s SSDI award letter provides enough financial information to determine whether Gomez was eligible for the loans.
The case now returns to the District Court for further proceedings.