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Treatment center asks judge to deny dismissal in its case against Crown Point
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Treatment center asks judge to deny dismissal in its case against Crown Point

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HAMMOND — An out-of-state treatment center is arguing its lawsuit against the city of Crown Point is ripe, despite the city requesting the case be dismissed. 

In a Tuesday filing, Pinnacle Treatment Centers, the plaintiff, asked a motion to dismiss filed on Nov. 17 by attorneys representing Crown Point, the defendant, be denied by the U.S. District Court in Hammond. 

City of Crown Point Attorney David Nicholls declined to comment on the latest filing, noting it has been the city's policy to not comment on pending litigation. 

Chicago-based attorneys Kevin Borozan and Craig Derrig, who are representing the city, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

The lawsuit stems from a home in the city's Waterside Crossing subdivision off 109th Avenue, where patients recovering from substance use disorder reside, and the city's attempt to regulate the home under its zoning code

Pinnacle Treatment Centers is not affiliated with Crown Point-based Pinnacle Hospital. 

The most-recent filing in the treatment center's lawsuit against the city, which seeks an injunction to keep the house open and includes a class action suit to recover damages, argues the case warrants judicial intervention. 

The city previously filed a motion to dismiss the complaint entirely for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction."

Indianapolis-based Attorney Mark Crandley, representing Pinnacle Treatment Centers and its patients, wrote the treatment center's claim against the city is ripe because the city failed to provide "reasonable accommodation" under the United States Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). 

Crandley noted the U.S. Supreme Court requires that towns and cities provide "reasonable accommodations," to those recovering from substance use disorder, even with local ordinances requiring single-family housing, in its City of Edmonds v. Oxford House opinion.

In May, Pinnacle Treatment Centers received a citation from the city, stating the home was in violation of Crown Point Zoning Code, which states no more than five unrelated individuals may reside in a single-family home. 

Crandley said, "despite the considerable opposition Pinnacle faced," the center tried to work with the city to "reach a reasonable compromise consistent with the rights granted by the FHAA."

Under the FHAA, people cannot be discriminated against based on "race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability," when renting or buying a home, seeking a mortgage and/or housing assistance or "engaging in other housing-related activities."

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, drug addiction and alcoholism are considered disabilities.

Crandley noted Pinnacle Treatment Centers submitted a request for accommodation, as well as a variance petition for the property.

In a lawsuit against Pinnacle Treatment Centers, the city alleges the petition didn't meet all of the requirements for a "complete and proper petition."

"Instead of granting the reasonable accommodation, the City sought to enforce the Code both through fines and through its lawsuit. Bringing suit served as a clear 'no' to the accommodation request," Crandley wrote. 

Crandley also wrote associational standing allows the treatment center to represent residents of the home "before the city forces them out due to discriminatory intent," later noting the city's "attack" on class action allegations in the suit is "premature and incorrect."

U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon, who is presiding over the case, has yet to accept or deny the motion to dismiss. 

A telephone conference is set for this case, along with the city's lawsuit against Pinnacle Treatment Centers and CapGrow Partners, for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 19.

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South Lake County Reporter

Mary Freda is the South Lake County reporter at The Times. She is a proud Ball State graduate, where she studied news journalism and Spanish. You can reach Mary at mary.freda@nwi.com or 219-853-2563.

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