Settlement reached in Sober House litigation

February 10, 2014

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County Commissioners voted February 10 to accept a settlement offer in the case of St. Paul Sober Living v. Garfield County. The case alleged federal fair housing violations in February 2011. The settlement closes litigation on this case and dismisses a pending state case the plaintiffs filed as well, extinguishing all further claims against the county.

The settlement in the federal case is for $550,000 including attorney’s fees. This is a reduction of $700,000 in fees from the amount being requested in federal district court of approximately $1.1 million. The settlement was struck after legal consultants advised that the settlement offer would drastically reduce any risks of incurring of any higher fees by a trial in the federal lawsuit.

The federal and state lawsuits stemmed from the plaintiff’s application for placement of a recovery home for persons of alcohol disabilities in a residential community in Garfield County.

“County staff has used this case to develop stronger land use code wording,” said Garfield County Attorney Frank Hutfless. “Confusion in the process of applying our Unified Land Use Resolution of 2008 contributed to the lawsuits, and the dispute helped us to address the potential for future problems in the county’s recently adopted Garfield County Land Use and Development Code. Based on expert legal advice, we have incorporated safeguards into the new code to avoid similar problems in the future.”