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Judge OKs Nationwide, Toledo Deal

September 3, 1998

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A judge has approved a $5.3 million settlement in a lawsuit that accused Nationwide Insurance Co. of discriminating against homeowners in minority neighborhoods.

The Toledo Fair Housing Center and homeowners filed the lawsuit in 1993, alleging that Nationwide used sales practices such as not returning phone calls to discourage homeowners in black neighborhoods from buying insurance.

Mortgage lenders require property and hazard insurance on mortgaged property before approving loans. Nationwide denies the discrimination charge, but said it went along with the settlement to avoid a long legal battle.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Frederick McDonald on Tuesday said he would monitor the settlement, which calls for Nationwide to give $2 million to homeowners who can show damages either from being refused insurance or from being less than properly compensated for claims.

The Columbus-based company will also make three $500,000 donations for fair housing education in northwestern Ohio, low-interest loans and home improvements for low-income urban residents.

The remaining $1.8 million would go toward plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

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