Cleveland officials accused some of the nation's biggest banks of creating a public nuisance through blight. Baltimore and Birmingham, Ala., filed suits alleging the same players created an epidemic of foreclosures by violating the Fair Housing Act. Buffalo, meanwhile, just wants $16,000 for demolishing each of 57 blighted homes from which it claims banks walked away.
So far, the first two approaches have failed: The Cleveland and Birmingham cases were dismissed last year, and a U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore dismissed the city's case Wednesday. This is hardly the end of the litigation: Cleveland intends to appeal; Baltimore's city attorney is already planning an amended complaint; and the city of Memphis filed a similar suit against Wells Fargo & Co. last week. But banking defense attorneys are hoping the Baltimore ruling will at least discourage further municipalities from trying their luck.