Two Black Johns Hopkins University professors who filed an August discrimination lawsuit against their appraisal company are now being countersued by the appraiser. In the suit filed Jan. 24, Shane Lanham claims he was defamed as a “racist,” which he says hurt his career.
In the original suit, Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott named Lanham as one of the defendants in their case. The couple claimed Lanham gave a lower appraisal because the home was occupied by a Black family. When Connolly and Mott replaced their décor and family photos to make the home seem white-owned, it was appraised for 60% more than Lanham’s given value, they said.
The suit states that Lanham’s appraisal “was inconsistent with professional appraisal standards in many ways.” It says he chose houses in and out of the couple’s neighborhood as comparable properties, one of which was in a predominantly Black neighborhood, after confirming that the pair pays dues to the Homeland homeowners association.
Lanham, who owns 20/20 Valuations LLC, denied that his appraisal was discriminatory in his countersuit. He also denied the claim that his appraisal did not meet professional standards. The countersuit states that Lanham visited the home for the appraisal while the professors were there. He denied that “it would have been obvious to anyone visiting that the home belonged to a Black family.”
“Falsely labeling someone a ‘racist’ and falsely accusing someone of racism are among the most damaging, hurtful, and destructive attacks in today’s society,” the countersuit reads.
It states that Connolly and Mott knew they were making false accusations and that they withheld facts to support their narrative as “victims of racism when, in fact, the appraisal in question reflected market conditions at the time that it was done.”
According to the countersuit, Connolly and Mott “failed to disclose the sale of the similar house next door to their home that sold only a month after Mr. Lanham and 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal for $7,000 less than the amount of the appraisal, validating Mr. Lanham and 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal.” Rather, the couple “relied on home sales that had not even occurred at the time of Mr. Lanham and 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal” when staking their claims, the countersuit says. Lanham argues that the couple has refused to share a copy of their second appraisal, which granted their house a higher value.
Furthermore, the countersuit calls Connolly and Mott’s “experiment” seriously flawed and “ill-conceived.”
Lanham now seeks a trial by jury. In December, he had motioned to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint.
Connolly and Mott did not respond to immediate requests for comment.