A judge this morning rejected an attempt by the Birmingham city attorney to toss out a predatory lending lawsuit filed on behalf of the city by outside attorneys.
Mayor Larry Langford has said the lawyers filed the suit without his approval, and he sought to withdraw it. But Birmingham City Council members have said they want it to move forward.
Today, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown said city attorney Lawrence Cooper does not have the authority to automatically dismiss the lawsuit through a notice of dismissal because he is not a lawyer of record on it. Brown said he would consider a motion to dismiss the lawsuit from Cooper, if he decided to come back with one.
Last month lawyers from Johnson & Walker and Montgomery-based Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles filed the suit against Regions Bank, Wells Fargo, Countrywide Bank and Argent Mortgage Co., claiming the lenders violated the federal Fair Housing Act by engaging in predatory lending.
Cooper said the lawyers violated city code by filing the lawsuit without going through the city attorney's office.
"These lawyers circumvented the law department," Cooper told the judge today.
The judge said he could only rule on whether Cooper has the authority to automatically dismiss the suit, and that he did not want to get involved in the conflict between the executive and legislative branches of city government.
"I was hopeful you all would've been able to work something out before you got here," Brown said.