L & F Homes v. City of Gulfport (Mitrenga)


United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

NAHB Involvement


L&F Homes sought to build a subdivision and received oral and written assurances from the City of Gulfport that water service was available for the subdivision. However, after L&F Homes had spent significant funds in the expectation that water service would be provided, the city changed course, claiming that the water capacity was insufficient under the fire code. During trial, L&F Homes sought and received a court-ordered test of the City's water system, which demonstrated that the water capacity was indeed sufficient. The City nonetheless refused to allow L&F Homes access. L&F Homes presented evidence at trial that the City had known there was no capacity issue, yet persisted in denying development in order to prevent a low-income housing project from being built in the area.

Ultimately, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi granted the City's multiple motions for summary judgment, finding, among other holdings, that L&F Homes did not have a property interest protectable under federal law, and that it was not entitled to protection for reliance on the written pledges of government officials. The district court's decision was appealed to the Fifth Circuit in three separate cases.

L&F Homes filed its opening brief on Sept. 19, 2012. NAHB filed an amicus brief on Sept. 26, 2012, explaining that L&F had a property right in its ownership interest. Unfortunately, on Aug. 7, 2013, the Fifth Circuit agreed with the City. The court did not address the property right question that NAHB briefed.