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Adam Leitman Bailey and John Desiderio

New York common law has long shielded landlords from tort liability for intentional injury suffered by one tenant at the hands of another tenant, unless the landlord “has the authority, ability, and opportunity to control the actions of the assailant.” Britt v. New York City Housing Authority, 3 AD2d 514, 770 NYS2d 744, 745 (2d Dept. 2004).

The ‘Francis’ Decisions

However, this shield was recently pierced by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Francis v. Kings Park Manor, 944 F3d 370 (2d Cir. 2019) (Francis III), en banc review granted, 949 F3d 67 (2d Cir. Feb. 3, 2020), in which the court held that a landlord may be liable under Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 USC §3604(b), “for intentionally discriminating against a tenant based on the tenant’s race, where the landlord allegedly refused to take any action to address what it knew to be a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, even though the landlord had acted against other tenants to redress prior, non-race related issues.”

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