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Kennedy Hunt P.C. is thrilled to announce an $800,000 settlement in a housing discrimination lawsuit against the Village of Hinsdale, Illinois. After years of litigation, the Village of Hinsdale has now agreed to enter into a consent decree to settle a lawsuit alleging the village violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This is a case we have been fighting since 2019. In June 2019, our client Trinity, a sober home provider, purchased a five-bedroom home in Hinsdale. Trinity attempted to meet with the Village prior to opening its doors to no avail. Two months later, Trinity requested a reasonable accommodation to operate its group sober-living home in a single-family zoned area of the Village. Hinsdale did not approve the reasonable accommodation request and instead the very next day the Village filed a lawsuit to evict Trinity. Shortly thereafter, Village President Thomas Cauley e-mailed Hinsdale residents, he hoped Trinity would “just leave” the Village “to avoid years of litigation costs.” In November 2019, Trinity filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. In November 2020, the Department of Justice filed a companion lawsuit, also claiming Hinsdale violated the Fair Housing Act. Further background on this case can be found here.

The $800,000 consent decree includes a $790,000 settlement for damages to our client, Trinity Sober Living. $10,000 goes to the government as a civil penalty. The consent decree also includes an overhaul of portions of the Village’s zoning code and a four-year period of oversight by the Department of Justice.

“This consent decree represents what the law has made clear for decades: people in recovery can no longer be ostracized to the outskirts of town by local governments under the auspices of local zoning laws,” says managing partner Sarah Jane Hunt of Kennedy Hunt, P.C. “People with disabilities, including individuals recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, have the right to live in residential neighborhoods. Municipalities that prevent people with disabilities from living in the community of their choice, do so in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This consent decree demonstrates the heavy price those municipalities pay when they run afoul of those laws.”

In addition to the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Kennedy Hunt P.C. also co-counseled with Bradley Staubus of Esposito & Staubus LLP.

“The consent decree makes clear that local governments do not have the right to use zoning laws as a vehicle to discriminate against people with disabilities,” stated Bradley Staubus, partner at Esposito & Staubus LLP located in Burr Ridge, Illinois. “As counsel for Trinity I am proud we were able to achieve justice for Trinity with the consent decree and settlement. The Village’s ordinances are amended and Trinity will receive valuable reimbursement for the substantial damages suffered. This is a victory for all people with disabilities and I am so privileged to have had the chance to lead this worthy fight.”

By bringing this lawsuit to a close, Trinity can focus on continuing its mission to support individuals who are recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol.

“Trinity Sober Living is satisfied with the settlement agreement with the Village of Hinsdale, says Micheal Owens, founder of Trinity Sober Living. “We are extremely grateful to our attorneys, Sarah Jane Hunt and Brad Staubus along with the attorneys from the DOJ and the Assistant US Attorneys. Trinity appreciates their tireless efforts in the pursuit of Justice against Hinsdale’s discriminatory conduct. “Connection to others” is one of the most important aspects to the foundation of sobriety and ultimately to long-term recovery. Therefore, It is crucial to our residents that they live in a group setting with others battling similar substance use disorders.”

Trinity will continue to provide family-oriented homes with a focus on community, accountability, and structure. Trinity intends to further its strategic vision of opening additional sober living homes and other supports for individuals in recovery in the future.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit and am thrilled that the Recovery Community, and people seeking Recovery, have another arrow in their quiver while navigating this difficult road, stated Paul G. Gay, Trinity’s Clinical Director. “The stigma associated with alcoholism and addiction make attempts at recovery difficult enough and deter many that might benefit from recovery were they given a fair chance. Properly run and operated Sober Living Homes create an environment of safety, stability, accountability, and knowledge that can assist people seeking long-term recovery. We are good people afflicted with a heinous disease that destroys or ends countless lives each year when untreated. Our mission at Trinity Sober Living is to assist those that want to better their lives.”

For more information, contact Sarah Jane Hunt at sarahjane@kennedyhuntlaw.com. If you or someone you know has been a victim of housing discrimination, our skilled attorneys at Kennedy Hunt, P.C. may be able to help you. Fill out a questionnaire so we can understand your claim.