PHA Didn't Violate Resident's Privacy Rights
Facts: A resident filed a complaint against the Omaha Housing Authority, claiming that the authority violated the Privacy Act and the Civil Rights Act because it illegally obtained her mother's financial information that indicated that her mother had helped her to buy a car.
Decision: The court ruled for the housing authority.
Reasoning: For the resident to win this lawsuit on the basis of the Civil Rights Act, the court stated, she must prove that the housing authority participated in a continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct and was deliberately indifferent to that conduct after given notice by the resident. However, the court pointed out, the resident did not accuse the authority of a continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct by its employees, or claim that the authority's policymaking officials were deliberately indifferent to her or tacitly authorized any unconstitutional conduct.
Accordingly, the court concluded, the resident didn't present sufficient facts to bring the case to trial. Nevertheless, the court indicated that it would permit the resident to amend her complaint to sufficiently make a claim against the authority.
Regarding the Privacy Act allegations that the housing authority illegally obtained her mother's financial information regarding the purchase of the car, the court reasoned that although that law requires the housing authority to maintain a system of records to collect information regarding the resident that would not invade the resident's privacy rights, the resident must prove that the housing authority failed to elicit the required information from the resident herself and that its action adversely affected her.
However, the court concluded, the resident again did not even claim that the housing authority failed to elicit information from her to the greatest extent practicable, or that the housing authority's violation adversely affected her.
- Goodwin v. Johnson, March 2010