Drug Rehab Center Can’t Get Post-Trial Injunction

     TAMPA, Fla. (CN) – A rehabilitation center that won discrimination damages from a Florida county cannot get an injunction, a federal judge ruled, finding it “unlikely that the county will again discriminate.”
     Narconon Spring Hill and its landlord, Toucan Partners, filed suit in 2009 after Hernando County denied Toucan a construction permit that would let Narconon expand its rehabilitative services.
     Though a jury found that Hernando had not violated Toucan’s rights under the Fair Housing Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, it found that the denied permit amounted to discrimination against Narconon. The jury awarded Narconon $74,490 in damages on Jan. 1, 2013.
     Last week, however, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore refused to grant Narconon a permanent injunction that would force issuance of the special use permit that Toucan sought in 2009.
     Because Toucan did not win on its own claims, Narconon cannot seek injunctive relief on a permit application it never submitted, according to the 10-page ruling.
     “Toucan, rather than Narconon, applied for the special exception permit Narconon wants validated,” Whittemore wrote. “Toucan would therefore directly benefit from the relief Narconon seeks. In this regard, the requested relief would be inconsistent with the jury determination that the county did not violate Toucan’s substantive rights. That is, because Narconon never submitted a permit application, the only permit the court could validate would be the permit Toucan applied for. The relief sought by Narconon would essentially grant affirmative relief to Toucan – a non-prevailing party – as the owner of the property.
     In a footnote to the opinion, Whittemore also took issue with the timing of Narconon’s injunction motion.
     “Narconon delineated the specific nature of the equitable relief sought for the first time in its motion for permanent injunction,” he wrote. “In addition, Narconon failed to follow the proper procedures required in seeking injunctive relief.”
     Local Rule 1.06(b), for example, requires parties seeking injunctive relief to include such words in their initial pleading.
     Since Toucan cannot file a motion for permanent injunction, it fell on Narconon to prove that Hernando would again discriminate against it, but Whittemore found that the rehab center failed in this regard.
     “Considering the jury verdict, it is unlikely that the County will again discriminate against Narconon,” he wrote.
     “Narconon’s argument that the single instance of discrimination by the county alone warrants injunctive relief is not persuasive, because there is no showing that the county is likely to discriminate against Narconon in the future,” the ruling continues.
     “Narconon has submitted no evidence that the County has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against individuals with disabilities,” Whittemore added. “Rather, it relies solely on the single act of discrimination that gave rise to this proceeding.”
     The judge did, however, grant Narconon final judgment on its damages award.

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