The largest landowner in the US is facing a lawsuit that could amount to more than $1bn over the treatment of a disabled tenant.
Landlord Andrew J. Dwi faces up to $1 billion in fines over the death of a tenant in 2016, and the city of Houston has already filed a lawsuit against him.
Dwi has faced legal troubles for decades, and has been sued over allegations of evictions and civil rights violations by tenants who say he ignored their claims.
But in 2018, he and his business partners decided to go on the offensive, launching a new firm called Dwi Law Group, and claiming they could help people like them in the process.
The firm, which is based in Austin, Texas, is led by a lawyer with extensive experience in civil rights cases.
According to the lawsuit, the firm had already started filing eviction notices against tenants in 2016 and 2017, and in the years since.
The lawsuit also alleges that Dwi violated the US Fair Housing Act, and that he failed to provide the tenant with proper housing options, including adequate food, adequate medical care, and adequate transportation to the site of the eviction.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit also allege that Dzi’s firm engaged in racial profiling and discrimination in the eviction process.
The company has hired a new lawyer, and is planning to file an amended complaint, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Dzi, who lives in Austin’s CBD, told the Houston Post that he is “extremely disappointed” by the lawsuit.
“I’m disappointed that the city has chosen to take legal action against me and my partners in this matter,” he said.
Dwi’s lawyers told the newspaper that they have “no plans to stop fighting for people like us, who have been unfairly evicted by their landlords for years.”
“We will continue to fight for justice for our clients, our tenants and our city,” the lawyer, who has been in the business for 40 years, said in a statement.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Houston case is not the first to come out of Texas.
In 2016, a Texas judge ordered a $7m settlement for a disabled man, who said he was forced to move out of his apartment because his landlord ignored a request to rent him a home.
A year later, a lawsuit was filed in Texas claiming that a landlord discriminated against a man who had been living in a nursing home for 30 years, and who was mentally disabled.
After the case was dismissed, the woman appealed, and a federal judge overturned the ruling, finding that a judge should have given more weight to the disability of the person making the complaint.
In 2017, a court ruled in favor of a woman who said she was harassed by a landlord who refused to rent her a home because she was unable to drive her car to and from work.