Small town fined $5 million over group home issue

A judge ruled that a “Fair Housing Center” home for six people was discriminated against and ordered the city of Cromwell, Connecticut, to pay $5 million.

CROMWELL, Conn. — Voters in Cromwell on Wednesday approved a measure to transfer $5 million from the city’s general fund to pay for a record fine imposed by a federal jury last year for “gross discriminatory practices” related to the opening of a home for men with mental health disabilities.

About 50 people, 11 of whom spoke at the public hearing, came to the municipal assembly.

Last fall, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding $5 million in punitive damages and $181,000 in compensatory damages to Middletown-based Gilead Community Services, Connecticut Fair Housing Center and at Rainbow Housing Corp.

The Fair Housing Center purchased the house for use as a community residence for six people under Gilead care.

All three entities had filed suit over city practices that led to the closure of the single-family home on Reisman Drive in October. Due to these issues, the single-family residence, located off Main Street and close to middle and middle schools, was eventually sold.

The award set a national record, according to civil rights lawyers in the case.

“In response to the purchase, Cromwell town officials waged a battle against Gilead and their customers through a series of overtly discriminatory actions, making it clear that people with disabilities were not welcome,” the official said. Connecticut Fair Housing Center.

“The jury’s verdict sent a clear message to cities across the state of Connecticut that the exclusion from group homes for people with disabilities violates federal law and will not be tolerated,” said Gilead attorney Relman. Colfax.

At Wednesday’s meeting, City Attorney Tom Girard said he was drafting appellate briefs and planned to file the documents in New York’s 2nd Circuit court. in September.

“We have a very strong appeal,” said Girard, who likened the process to a football game. “We’re at halftime…it’s not over, but, in order to be successful with our appeal, we have to convince the court…that, if we go through our appeal process, and we don’t ‘let’s not win the case, the town of Cromwell is good for that,’ he explained.

“We have the money. They don’t need to force us to pay and post a very expensive appeal bond,” said Girard, who “wholeheartedly” recommended that residents approve the measure.

© 2022 The Middletown Press, Conn. Dan Haar contributed to this article.

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