PUBLISHED:November 18, 2016

Civil Justice Clinic achieves successful outcome for clients in contract and housing benefits cases

Students in the Civil Justice Clinic achieved two significant wins for their clients in October and November hearings. Daniel Echeverri JD/MA ’17and Daniel Friedman ’17 conducted the trial of a breach of contract case in Durham for a client seeking to recover $2,000 in out of pocket expenditures for the purchase of her first house after the sellers reneged on the contract and sold to someone else for a higher price. The students prepared witnesses and exhibits, made opening and closing statements to the court, and conducted direct and cross examinations. The judge ruled entirely in their client’s favor, awarding all damages sought plus costs and interest.

Eleanor Geise ’17 represented a clinic client in an appeal hearing before the Durham Housing Authority (DHA). The client’s Section 8 housing benefits had been terminated as the result of errors within the DHA, which lost paperwork submitted by the client while she was seeking to move her family out of an apartment with significant mold contamination. The client submitted a letter from her children’s doctor documenting that the children had experienced adverse health consequences due to their exposure to the mold. However, DHA lost the letter and other communications from the client and concluded that the client failed to give proper notice of moving out, and therefore terminated her Section 8 benefits for new housing. As a result, the client and her two children were forced to live in her car for several months, and the Department of Social Services sought custody of her children. 

At the appeal hearing Geise conducted direct and cross examinations of witnesses and argued the case to an appeal officer.  After the hearing, the officer issued his decision overturning the prior termination of benefits and reinstating the clinic’s client to the Section 8 program.