The Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit (FHC), in order to advance the cause of fair housing and to help secure the legal rights of complainants who allege violations of state or federal fair housing laws, enters into "Agreements" with certain private practice attorneys. Those attorneys, referred to as "FHC Cooperating Attorneys", agree to accept FHC referred cases in accordance with the terms outlined in the FHC Contingent Fee Agreement.
The following summarizes the operating elements of the agreement between FHC and the Cooperating Attorneys. Most of the following are simple restatements of items that have been included in previous memos from FHC staff to Cooperating Attorneys. Others stress points that have been part of the agreement, but never written down, and others represent guidelines that need to be written down.
1. Any Detroit area private practice attorney who agrees to represent FHC referred complaints in accordance with the FHC Contingent Fee Agreement and who signs the "Agreement to Placement" form, is placed on the FHC Cooperating Attorney list.
2. A copy of the signed "Agreement to Placement" form should be on file at the FHC office for each Cooperating Attorney.
3. FHC will provide the following to each Cooperating Attorney:
Background materials about fair housing laws and the preparation of fair housing cases for litigation in state or federal courts.
Upon request, information about locally prepared and filed housing discrimination cases (pleadings, briefs, etc.).
Access to other FHC Cooperating Attorneys who will be willing to advise you and/or may be willing to serve as co-counsel with you in a housing discrimination case.
Update information about fair housing law and case dispositions at both the state and federal levels.
4. FHC will only request Cooperating Attorneys to accept, on a Contingent Fee basis, those cases that are believed by FHC to involve clear issues of fact for which it appears, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the plaintiff will prevail.
5. Cooperating Attorneys maintain the right to refuse FHC referred cases and/or to modify the terms of the Contingent Fee Agreement with the approval of the complainant. FHC, however, must be notified of any changes made in the Agreement between the Attorney and the complainant.
6. FHC will, normally, ascertain the availability for accepting a referral before making a specific referral to a Cooperating Attorney.
7. FHC will, normally, provide the names of three (3) Cooperating Attorneys to the complainant and request the complainant to select an attorney from that list. FHC reserves the right, at any time, either on its own initiative or at the request of the complainant, to refer a complainant to Cooperating Attorneys other than the Attorney initially selected by the complainant.
8. FHC will prepare an "Attorney Referral Form" for each complainant referred and will direct the complainant to give that form to the attorney selected.
9. Upon notification that an attorney has been selected by the complainant, FHC will forward to the attorney the complete case file, including: - Copy of FHC Initial Intake Form; - Copy of Test Report Forms (if any); - Names and addresses of testers and any other witnesses known to FHC; - Information about any other actions against the same defendant that are known to FHC.
10. The Cooperating Attorney agrees to furnish to FHC the following information for each referred case: - Copy of signed Contingent Fee Agreement (if any); - Copy of the initial Complaint along with the Case number, Court and Judge assigned, and whether a Jury demand has been made or a Lis Pendis filed; - Copies of any major motions or major written briefs; - Copy of any communication between the Cooperating Attorney and FHC testers or other FHC witnesses; - Copy of final settlement agreement, consent judgment, final agreed order or other closing materials; - Copy of all appeal materials.
11. In addition to the exchange of "paper" (#3, #9 and #10, above), FHC expects that the Cooperating Attorney will: keep in close contact with FHC on each referred case; be responsive to FHC requests for information about the case; be open to FHC recommendations concerning the case; advise FHC of any problems that develop during the course of the litigation.
12. FHC expects that all Contingent Fee related cases will be filed in the appropriate court within 30 days from the date of referral, unless additional evidence gathering (testing) by FHC is needed. In the event that a TRO is necessary (normally, when the issue of occupancy is still in question), FHC expects that such actions will be prepared and filed within 10 days from the date of referral.
13. FHC referrals to Cooperating Attorneys will be made on the basis of the following criteria: the attorney's readiness to accept cases; the number of cases previously referred to the attorney and the current FHC caseload of the attorney; past experience with FHC in representing referred complainants. Every effort will be made to spread the cases around so that each Cooperating Attorney will have at least one active case.
14. FHC will make every effort to assure that its witnesses (including testers and staff) are available for depositions and trials.