STEPHEN M. DANE
Dane Law LLC is led by Stephen M. Dane, known throughout the fair housing and civil rights communities for litigating hundreds of fair housing and civil rights claims on behalf of victims of discrimination and the advocacy organizations who represent them.
Dane has received numerous awards and honors for his civil rights work, including the Public Interest Law Award from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, HUD's Fair Housing Award for Outstanding Contribution and Commitment to Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, the Fair Housing Award from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Community Access Award from the Ability Center of Toledo, the Award of Excellence for the Promotion of Equal Housing Opportunity for All People from the National Fair Housing Alliance, and The University of Toledo College of Law Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 1998 Dane was selected as one of eight Lawyers of the Year by Ohio Lawyers Weekly. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Civil Rights.
Some of Dane’s more notable cases are listed below. But Dane is best known for pioneering cutting edge legal theories and litigation under the Fair Housing Act. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dane litigated some of the earliest mortgage lending discrimination claims on behalf of borrowers, sellers, real estate agents and others against banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies, well before HUD and the Department of Justice meaningfully got involved enforcing the Act against the financial services industry.
Dane’s clients next asked him to take on the homeowners insurance industry, filing and litigating cases that led to some of the largest settlements and verdicts under the Fair Housing Act. Up until that time, the insurance industry had managed to avoid scrutiny under the Fair Housing Act, claiming it did not reach their business practices. More importantly than the legal victories, settlement monies, and jury verdicts involved, Dane and his clients succeeded in ridding the industry of a host of offensive underwriting and pricing practices that were unfairly discriminating against minority neighborhoods and homeowners.
Currently Dane is spearheading the development of legal theories supporting claims of rampant REO maintenance discrimination in communities of color. These are the first such cases of their kind to be filed under the Fair Housing Act. At this time these claims remain pending before several district courts, having survived aggressive motions to dismiss on legal grounds.
In addition to being a lawyer, Dane is a math nerd, science geek, and prolific author. He has a BS in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame. He graduated from The University of Toledo College of Law cum laude. After serving as a law clerk for the Honorable Pierce Lively of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, Dane returned to his home town of Toledo. For the first segment of his career he was a shareholder and eventually served as president of the Ohio litigation firm, Cooper & Walinski, representing both plaintiffs and Fortune 500 defendants in complex civil litigation throughout the United States. For his second act, from 2005-2019, Dane helped build a 5-person law firm, Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, into a 24-lawyer national civil rights powerhouse. During this time Dane also served as Acting Judge of the Perrysburg, Ohio, Municipal Court for 17 years, and was a Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the Diocese of Toledo. Dane believes strongly in professional bar involvement, and served on the Toledo Bar Association Board of Trustees for 10 years. In 2010 and 2011, Dane was elected and served as President of the Toledo Bar Association.
Dane has been married for 40 years to his high school sweetheart, Kim. They have 5 adult children and 5 grandchildren.
Design and Construction Accessibility Litigation
National Fair Housing Alliance, Inc. v. A.G. Spanos Companies, 542 F. Supp. 2d 1054 (N.D.Cal. 2008) (representation of five fair housing agencies alleging design and construction defects in 82 multi-family projects constructed around the country since 1991; case settlement valued at $15 million)
HOME of Virginia v. Historic Housing LLC (E.D. Va. 2016) (settlement of claims alleging design and construction defects and requiring alterations to achieve accessibility of common use areas and in dwelling units)
National Fair Housing Alliance and HOME v. Hunt Investments, LLC, 2015 WL 4362864 (E.D. Va. 2015) (representation of fair housing agencies alleging design and construction defects in a multi-family project in Richmond, VA; settlement required substantial retrofits and monetary payment to be used for accessibility fund)
National Fair Housing Alliance, Intermountain Fair Housing Alliance, and Northwest Fair Housing Alliance v. Rudeen Development, LLC (E.D. Wash. 2015) (representation of three fair housing agencies alleging design and construction defects in five multi-family communities throughout Idaho and Washington; settlement required substantial retrofits and monetary payment)
Miami Valley Fair Housing Center v. Steiner & Associates, (S.D. Ohio 2012) (complaint by fair housing organizations against designers and builders of over 270 allegedly non-compliant dwelling units; settlement required retrofits of units and common areas and payment of damages and fees)
National Fair Housing Alliance v. S.C. Bodner Co., 844 F. Supp.2d 940 (S.D. Ind. 2012) (court decision holding that subsequent purchasers of covered multifamily dwellings may be liable for renting inaccessible units, even if not involved in the original design or construction of non-compliant dwelling units)
Housing Research and Advocacy Center v. K&D Group (N.D. Ohio 2011) (housing discrimination lawsuit alleging disability discrimination by the designers and builders of the largest single residential project in Cleveland in 97 years; defendants agreed to make corrections to dwelling units and common areas, and pay $567,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees)
National Fair Housing Alliance v. Ovation Development Corp. (D. Nev. 2009) (complaint alleging that more than 1500 covered multifamily units in eleven apartment complexes failed to provide the accessible features required by the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act; settlement agreement required units to be made compliant, model units to be placed on first floor, and $750,000 damages)
Fair Housing Council, Inc. v. Village of Olde St. Andrews, 2006 WL 3724128 (6th Cir. 2006) (first appellate decision to address application of the Fair Housing Act’s statute of limitations to design and construction cases)
Homeowners Insurance Discrimination
Housing Opportunities Made Equal, et al. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Co-counsel for HOME of Richmond and individual plaintiffs alleging discrimination in the sale and marketing of homeowners insurance. Jury verdict of $100.5 million, reported to be largest verdict in Virginia history and largest fair housing verdict in the country. Settled on appeal.
Toledo Fair Housing Center et al. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, et al. 94 Ohio Misc. 2d 14 (1993), 17 (1996), 127 (1996), 145 (1996), 151 (1997), 185 (1997), 186 (1998), Lucas County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas. Lead counsel for the Toledo Fair Housing Center and a class of plaintiffs, consisting of all homeowners in Toledo’s African-American neighborhoods, alleging discrimination in the sale and marketing of homeowners insurance. First class action filed under Ohio’s Fair Housing statute against an insurance company. Settlement valued at $5.35 million.
Nevels v. Western World Ins. Co., 359 F. Supp.2d 1110 (W.D. Wash. 2004) (representation of adult family home businesses whose insurance was canceled due to the presence of persons with disabilities; $2 million settlement)
Toledo Fair Housing Center v. Farmers Insurance Companies, 61 F. Supp. 2d 681 (N.D. Ohio 1999); 64 F. Supp. 2d 703 (N.D. Ohio 1999). Lead counsel for plaintiffs alleging discrimination in the sale and marketing of homeowners insurance. Settlement valued at $4.3 million.
Viens v. American Empire Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 113, F. Supp.3d 555 (D. Conn. 2015). Lead counsel for landlords challenging insurer's underwriting criteria that charged higher premiums or denied coverage to landlords who rent apartments to tenants receiving Section 8 housing assistance. Consent Decree entered eliminating source of income restrictions.
National Fair Housing Alliance v. Allstate Insurance Company, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Counsel for NFHA and other fair housing organizations in the negotiation of a landmark Conciliation Agreement with Allstate Insurance Company.
National Fair Housing Alliance et al. v. Prudential Insurance Company, 208 F.Supp.2d 46 (D.C. 2002). Co-counsel for fair housing organization plaintiffs alleging discrimination in the sale and marketing of homeowners insurance.
Discrimination in Housing Because of Disability
Preferred Properties, Inc. v. Indian River Estates, 276 F.3d 790 (6th Cir. 2002). Lead counsel for developer of accessible housing against seller of land for alleged discrimination on the basis of handicap and disability. $156,500.00 jury verdict affirmed on appeal.
Velzen v. Grand Valley State University, 902 F. Supp.2d 1038 (W.D. Mich. 2012) (claim of discrimination by student for state university’s refusal to accommodate her disability by allowing an emotional support animal)
Vance v. City of Maumee, 960 F.Supp.2d 720 (N.D. Ohio 2013) (representation of homeowners against municipality for its alleged failure to accommodate their disabilities; summary judgment granted to plaintiffs)
Hollis v. Chestnut Bend HOA, 760 F.3d 531 (6th Cir. 2014) (first appellate decision to hold that evidence of intent or pretext is not required to establish reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification claims under the Fair Housing Act)
NFHA Deaf Testing Cases (HUD, 2013) (representation of the National Fair Housing Alliance in nine HUD complaints that alleged, as a result of a nationwide testing investigation, discrimination by housing providers against the deaf and hard of hearing)
Olsen v. Stark Homes, 759 F.3d 140 (2d Cir. 2014) (remanding for trial a claim that the defendant failed to accommodate the plaintiff’s disability due to depression)
Litigation Against Government Agencies
Central Alabama Fair Housing Center v. Magee, 835 F. Supp.2d 1165 (M.D. Ala. 2012). Co-lead counsel for all of Alabama’s fair housing agencies and a putative class of undocumented aliens challenging the legality of Alabama’s HB56 under the U.S. Constitution and the Fair Housing Act. Preliminary injunction against enforcement of HB 56 issued.
United States of America ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York, Inc. v. Westchester County, New York, 495 F.Supp.2d 375 (S.D.N.Y. 2007); 668 F.Supp.2d 548 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). Co-lead counsel for plaintiff in False Claims Act case alleging that Westchester County, New York, fraudulently misrepresented to HUD its efforts to “affirmatively further fair housing.” Settlement valued at $62.5 million.
McNamara v. Ohio Building Authority, 697 F. Supp.2d 820 (N.D. Ohio 2010). Claim alleging violations of Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act based on the defendants’ refusal to permit plaintiffs’ use of a Segway in a public building.
Mary Vaughn v. Eastern Michigan University, Circuit Court of Washtenaw County, Michigan. Lead counsel for plaintiff, a terminated University Housing rental manager, alleging race discrimination in housing and employment. Favorable settlement obtained.
Park Place Home Brokers v. P-K Mobile Home Park, 773 F. Supp. 46 (N.D. Ohio 1991). Counsel for plaintiffs in successful case of first impression interpreting the "housing for older persons" exemption under the federal Fair Housing Act. Permanent injunction issued.
Josie Jaimes v. Toledo Metropolitan Housing Authority, 715 F. Supp. 843 (N.D. Ohio 1989). Fee petition counsel in class action against local housing authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for racially discriminatory housing practices. Substantial fee awards obtained against both defendants.
Old West End Association v. Buckeye Federal Savings & Loan, 675 F. Supp. 1100 (N.D. Ohio 1987). Lead counsel for plaintiffs alleging discrimination in housing finance. Leading case regarding elements of a prima facie case of geographic racial discrimination (i.e., redlining).
Keck v. Graham Hotel Systems, Inc., 566 F.3d 634 (6th Cir. 2009). Lead counsel for plaintiffs alleging racially discriminatory treatment by hotel.
Carol Aloqaili v. National Housing Corp., 743 F. Supp. 1264 (N.D. Ohio 1990). Counsel for plaintiffs in civil rights case alleging housing discrimination based on religion, national origin, and ethnic background. Jury verdict for plaintiffs.
Stephen M. Dane’s articles and publications include the following:
Dane, Fair Housing Policy Under the Trump Administration, Human Rights Magazine, Vol. 44, No. 3 (Dec. 6, 2019).
Dane, Ramchandani, & Bellows, Discriminatory Maintenance of REO Properties as a Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act, 17 CUNY L. Rev. 383 (Jan. 2015).
Dane, Race Discrimination Is Not Risk Discrimination: Why Disparate Impact Analysis of Homeowners Insurance Practices Is Here to Stay, 33 Banking & Financial Services Policy Report 1 (June, 2014).
Dane, The Exposure of Securitization Trustees to Liability Under the Federal Fair Housing Act for Poorly Maintained Real Estate Owned Properties, Banking L. J. (Feb. 2014).
Dane, The Potential for Racial Discrimination by Homeowners Insurers Through the Use of Geographic Rating Territories, 24 J. Insurance Reg. 21 (2006).
Dane, Disparate Impact Analysis in the Mortgage Lending Context, 115 Banking L.J. 900 (1998).
Dane and Stokes, Fair Housing Cases: The Effect of Ohio’s Tort Reform Act, Ohio Lawyer, Jan./Feb. 1998, at 14.
Dane, Investigating Claims of Discrimination in Housing Finance, 28 John Marshall L. Rev. 371 (1995).
Dane, Eliminating the Labyrinth: A Proposal to Simplify Federal Mortgage Lending Discrimination Laws, 26 U. Mich. J. L. Reform 527 (1993).
Dane, A History of Mortgage Lending Discrimination in the United States, 20 J. Intergroup Rel. 16 (1993).
Dane, Ohio's New Fair Housing Law, Ohio Lawyer, Sept./Oct. 1988, at 24.
Dane, “Ordered Liberty" and Self-Restraint: The Judicial Philosophy of the Second Justice Harlan, 51 U. Cin. L. Rev. 545 (1982).
Dane and Risley, Briefing Techniques in the Sixth Circuit, 13 U. Tol. L. Rev. 697 (1982).
Note, Testing the Constitutionality of Warrantless Administrative Inspections -- Marshall v. Nolichuckey Sand Co., 11 U. Tol. L. Rev. 67 (1980).
Dane, Application of the Federal Fair Housing Act to Homeowners Insurance, Chapter Two of Insurance Redlining (G. Squires, Ed.), Urban Institute Press (1997).
Dane, Federal Enforcement of the Fair Lending, Equal Credit Opportunity, and Community Reinvestment Laws: 1989-1990, Chapter XIV of Lost Opportunities: The Civil Rights Record of the Bush Administration Mid-Term, Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (1991).
Dane, Federal Enforcement of the Fair Lending, Equal Credit Opportunity, and Community Reinvestment Laws in the 1980s, Chapter XVI of One Nation, Indivisible, A Report of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (1989).
Dane & Bradford, Mortgage Lending Investigation Manual, National Fair Housing Alliance (1993).
Dane & Smith, Investigation of Claims of Mortgage Lending Discrimination -- Training Manual, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (1990).
Fair Lending: Unlocking the American Dream, Produced by the Toledo Fair Housing Center (Video, 1995).
Housing Discrimination Practice Manual, Clark, Boardman, Callaghan (John P. Relman, Principal Author).
Sixth Circuit Appellate Practice Institute, November 11-12, 1983, Cincinnati, Ohio. Sponsored by the ABA Section of Litigation and the Cincinnati Bar Association.
Did Not, Did Too!, a third grade storybook about the civil justice system, published by the Ohio State Bar Foundation (2002) and winner of the Excellence in Public Service Programming award from the ABA National Conference of Bar Foundations
The Ordeal, Trial Advocate Quarterly (Winter 2000), Vol 19, No. 1, p. 39
Dane is currently the editor of the Civil Rights Insider, the award-winning quarterly e-newsletter of the Federal Bar Association’s Civil Rights Law Section.
Debbie Adoline serves as Dane Law LLC's Office Manager, Executive Assistant, and Paralegal. She previously served as an Executive Assistant to Steve Dane at Relman Dane & Colfax and as a legal assistant at a large Toledo law firm for many years. She holds an associate degree in administrative management from the University of Toledo.
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