Townstone wins order to dismiss CFPB’s redlining lawsuit 

A federal choose in Illinois dominated in favor of Townstone Monetary Inc. and its proprietor, Barry Sturner, on a movement to dismiss with prejudice a redlining lawsuit filed by the Client Monetary Safety Bureau (CFPB). 

In July 2020, the CFPB filed a lawsuit accusing the nonbank retail lender of discouraging potential African American debtors within the Chicago metropolitan space from making use of for mortgages. 

Townstone filed the movement to dismiss in October 2020, which was granted on Friday by Decide Franklin U. Valderrama within the U.S. District Courtroom for the Northern District of Illinois, Jap Division. 

The CFPB declined to touch upon the choice, for which it could possibly enchantment.  

Beginning as early as 2014, Townstone marketed its companies by way of its radio present and podcast. The lawsuit delivered to mild feedback made by Sturner on the present, referring to majority-African-American neighborhoods because the “jungle,” “scary,” and locations the place you “drive very quick,” and “you don’t take a look at anyone or lock on anyone’s eyes.” 

In an announcement to HousingWire, Sturner stated, “Townstone doesn’t discriminate and nobody has ever complained about something Townstone stated on its radio present.” 

The lawsuit additionally consists of knowledge exhibiting that Townstone drew about 2,700 candidates from 2014 to 2017, with just one.4% of the entire coming from African American residents within the Chicago metropolitan space. Throughout the identical interval, Townstone drew a mean of 5 – 6 purposes every year for properties in majority African American neighborhoods, regardless of such neighborhoods accounting for 13.8% of the Chicago metropolitan space.  

In response to the CFPB, the lender’s acts and practices allegedly violated the Equal Credit score Alternative Act (ECOA), Regulation B and the Client Monetary Safety Act. 

The ECOA, enacted in 1974, states it “shall be illegal for any creditor to discriminate in opposition to any applicant, with respect to any side of a credit score transaction—on the premise of race, coloration, faith, nationwide origin, intercourse or marital standing, or age.” 

Congress directed the Federal Reserve Board, consequently the CFPB, to make laws to hold out the needs of the ECOA. 

It resulted in Regulation B, which says, “A creditor shall not make any oral or written assertion, in promoting or in any other case, to candidates or potential candidates that will discourage on a prohibited foundation an inexpensive particular person from making or pursuing an utility.” 

In response to Townstone, the CFPB, by way of its lawsuit, “improperly makes an attempt to broaden the ECOA’s attain past the “categorical” and “unambiguous” language of the statute. 

Defendants stated the ECOA regulates habits towards credit score candidates. It doesn’t regulate habits regarding “potential candidates who haven’t but utilized for credit score.”  

In his choice, Decide Valderrama stated, “the CFPB can not amend its pleading in a method that will change the language of the ECOA.” 

Steve Simpson of the Pacific Authorized Basis, who acted as counsel for Townstone, stated in an announcement to HousingWire that “no company, together with CFPB, has the authority to rewrite a legislation prohibiting discrimination in opposition to credit score candidates into one which makes an attempt to ban non-discriminatory conduct and speech.”

“Sadly, we needed to spend years preventing CFPB over a case that ought to by no means have been introduced. Hopefully, the courtroom’s choice will stop others from having to endure what we have now,” Sturner stated.