The legal environment for fair lending cases has shifted significantly against banks recently. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formalized its view that, even if lenders don’t intentionally discriminate, they would be in violation of the Fair Housing Act if their actions have a negative, disparate impact on certain groups of people. In addition, hopes that the U. S. Supreme Court might rule on such cases was dashed when an appeal that would have shed light on the subject was dropped.

“It was an opportunity to bring clarity to this area, and now an opportunity lost,” said Christopher Willis, a Ballard Spahr partner who defends banks in fair lending suits.