A federal judge dismissed most but not all claims in the federal lawsuit brought by the landlord of the Yale Park Apartments against the City of Omaha, several city officials and a refugee advocacy group.
The suit was filed in March on behalf of landlord Kay Anderson; his wife, Janae; and AB Realty, the limited liability company that owns Yale Park.
The lawsuit alleged that city officials and refugee group Restoring Dignity conspired and worked together to shut down the apartment complex, violating the civil and property rights of Anderson, discriminating against his refugee tenants and violating a 2015 consent decree between a landlord group and the city, among other complaints.
One year ago, the city evacuated the 100-unit complex near 34th Avenue and Lake Street after housing inspectors found gas leaks, electrical problems, leaky ceilings and bugs inside, displacing 500 tenants who were refugees from Myanmar. Today, Anderson is fixing up the property and renting out some of the apartments again.
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In an order handed down Tuesday, senior U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp tossed out 12 claims brought by the Andersons and AB Realty, including most of the claims against individual defendants, the notion that Anderson was discriminated against because he rented apartments to a racial minority and the claim that his property was unlawfully taken from him.
Smith Camp noted that the city’s Property Maintenance Appeals Board has given Anderson more time to remedy code violations, so there has not been a final decision yet to permanently close the apartments.
“The city is quite pleased,” said Michelle Peters, deputy city attorney. “It is a dismissal of the vast majority of the claims.”
Anderson’s attorney, Jason Bruno, did not immediately return a request for comment. An appeal is possible.
But Smith Camp did allow several claims to stand pending the outcome of Anderson’s criminal trial, which is scheduled to start Nov. 19. Anderson has been charged with 99 misdemeanors, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The remaining claims include allegations that Anderson’s due process rights were violated by Scott Lane, the city’s chief housing inspector, whom the original lawsuit said submitted an affidavit with false information to obtain a search warrant to inspect Yale Park.
Smith Camp said the criminal trial against Anderson “will address the constitutionality of the search warrant, the existence of code violations, and any resulting due process violations.”