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Pollard v. Romney

decided: February 24, 1975.

MRS. ANNA POLLARD, AN INDIVIDUAL, APPELLANT,
v.
GEORGE W. ROMNEY, INDIVIDUALLY, AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT; EUGENE S. GULLEDGE, INDIVIDUALLY, AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT; CHARLES LIEBERTH, INDIVIDUALLY, AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS AREA DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT; AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA (D.C. Civil Action No. 73-91).

Adams, Gibbons and Weis, Circuit Judges.

Author: Adams

Opinion OF THE COURT

ADAMS, Circuit Judge.

This appeal presents the question whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to review a decision of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, fashioned under section 518 of the National Housing Act, denying funds for the repair of a dwelling that is subject to a mortgage guaranteed by HUD.

A.

On November 27, 1970, Anna Pollard purchased a single-family residence in North Braddock, Pennsylvania. A note, secured by a mortgage on the premises, provided $9,200 of the $12,000 purchase price of that home. The mortgage was insured by HUD under the Existing-Home Program of section 235 of the National Housing Act.*fn1 As part of the benefits provided by that program Mrs. Pollard received from HUD a monthly subsidy of $43. to assist her in meeting the monthly mortgage installments of $74.15.

Mrs. Pollard claims that she was led to believe that prior to her purchasing the house representatives of HUD had inspected the dwelling and determined that it complied with all applicable health and building codes. However, as related by Mrs. Pollard, shortly after moving into the house in December, 1970, she began noticing latent defects affecting, inter alia, the plumbing, the heating system, the roof, and the electrical wiring. Within "one year after the insurance of the mortgage" by HUD, Mrs. Pollard claims she requested HUD to provide, pursuant to subsection 518(b) of the Housing Act,*fn2 financial assistance for making the necessary repairs. A month later a HUD inspector, having visited the residence while Mrs. Pollard was not present, apparently left a message which Mrs. Pollard never received.*fn3

Mrs. Pollard's attorney wrote HUD on December 18, 1972, requesting another inspection. Then on January 29, 1973, Mrs. Pollard initiated this action in the district court. She asserted that HUD had failed to inspect the dwelling to determine whether it conformed to local health and housing codes, and had thereby not complied with the requirements of the section 235 Existing Home Program.*fn4 Mrs. Pollard further alleged that by refusing to repair the defects in her house, HUD violated section 518 of the Act, which provided for repair of defects seriously affecting use and livability, and also transgressed the regulations promulgated by the Secretary under that section. Following commencement of the suit, HUD again visited the Pollard home and this time inspected the alleged defects. HUD then informed counsel for Mrs. Pollard that it believed that lack of proper maintenance had contributed to the defective condition of the residence, but offered financial aid in correcting ten defects. Mrs. Pollard's counsel responded, requesting financial aid with respect to seventeen additional defects as well. There have apparently been no further attempts to settle amicably the dispute between HUD and Mrs. Pollard.

B.

In the district court Mrs. Pollard sought (1) a declaratory judgment stating that HUD had a duty to ascertain that all housing insured under the section 235 Existing Home Program complied with the local health and housing codes; (2) a writ of mandamus ordering HUD to reimburse Mrs. Pollard for the cost of rehabilitating her house so that it might comply with the standards of the Allegheny County Health Department; (3) as an alternative to the writ of mandamus, damages in the amount necessary to bring her home into conformity with the County's standards; and (4) such other relief as the court deemed just and equitable.*fn5

The Secretary filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Mrs. Pollard moved for partial summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for the Secretary.

C.

On this appeal Mrs. Pollard claims that in denying her compensation for the expense necessary to bring her HUD-insured home into conformity with the local codes HUD violated the regulations*fn6 the agency itself has issued pursuant to subsection 518(b). Mrs. Pollard further contends that the district court erred in concluding that it had no ...


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