I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Suing where the Southern Cross’ the Dog

The housing part of the civil clinical programs in the law school has filed a pretty interesting lawsuit against a slumlord down in the Delta just outside Moorhead.  To read the allegations of the complaint, what you have here is old-school Delta or Mississippi property owner (this is my fiefdom, to do as I wish!) in the context of federal programs to provide low cost housing.

The headline level stuff is allegations that he’s not maintained the sewage system and pools of open sewage are often all around, producing the effect of worse-than-third-world living conditions.

There are all kind of interesting wrinkles.  For instance, the complaint alleges that the guy was selling the houses, apparently, through some variant of the classic contract-for-a-deed, and then using summary evictions (even boarding up houses) when payments get missed.  He has gone through and given deeds for some of the places.  But there’s that little detail: He’s prohibited under the terms of the federal programs from selling the property for a term of years that have not come close to expiring.

Depicted above is Carroll Cloar’s famous painting (which can be seen at the Brooks in Memphis) of the railroad where the Southern Crosses the Yellow Dog, Moorhead’s most famous landmark.  Below is Bessie Smith sining “Yellow Dog Blues;” listen for the very last line.

Here’s the complaint and here’s the motion for a preliminary injunction.

The judge has entered a consent decree on the motion, providing that there won’t be evictions until trial on the merits.

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