GRSM Minneapolis Team Obtains Defense Verdict for Property Management Client in Housing Discrimination Trial

November 2023

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Minneapolis Co-Managing Partner Suzanne L. Jones and Associate Samuel A. Meshbesher obtained a complete defense verdict in a housing discrimination case on behalf of a property management company and employee.

The plaintiff alleged that GRSM’s property management client wrongfully terminated her lease after it was signed, but before she moved in, because of her race and national origin. The plaintiff sought nearly $500,000 in emotional distress and compensatory damages, claiming housing discrimination and retaliation, violation of Minnesota’s lockout statute, and breach of lease. 

During a two-day bench trial, GRSM presented several witnesses who testified as to the actual reason for the cancellation of the plaintiff’s lease: the plaintiff was rude toward the leasing staff and made repeated unreasonable demands regarding her lease. GRSM also highlighted the plaintiff’s lack of any damages.   

Based on the evidence presented, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s housing discrimination claims with prejudice, concluding that she failed to show that GRSM’s client’s legitimate and non-discriminatory business reasons for canceling her lease were pretextual. The court also dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for unlawful exclusion and rejected her claim for treble damages under Minnesota’s wrongful ouster statute. Finally, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s breach of lease claim with prejudice, based on the plaintiff’s failure to prove any damages.

The pre-trial workup, critical to this victory, was done by Minneapolis Co-Managing Partner Ellen A. Brinkman.