On June 16, 2023, Relman Colfax settled disability discrimination litigation against the City of Howell, Michigan, brought on behalf of Amber Reineck House, Courtney Atsalakis, and the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan.
Ms. Atsalakis founded Amber Reineck House in late 2017, in memory of her sister, Amber Reineck, who died of a fentanyl overdose in 2015. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing housing and support services for individuals recovering from substance use disorders, and to giving women in recovery a chance to overcome their substance use in an affordable, supportive, community setting.
Neighbors opposed Amber Reineck House’s proposal to open a home in the City of Howell in early 2018, and the City imposed a moratorium on new sober living and other group homes, an outright ban that ultimately lasted for 20 months, until March 2020. The firm filed suit on January 27, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, challenging the Moratorium under the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.
The settlement of the case for $750,000 is one of the largest obtained in this region and sends a signal to local governments who have sought to prevent these types of homes from operating in residential neighborhoods. Amber Reineck House is now operating a sober living home in Howell, where it has become an integral part of the community.
The Relman Colfax litigation team includes Lila Miller, Glenn Schlactus, Sara Pratt, and Nick Abbott, with paralegal assistance from Charlotte Saltzman. Stephen Dane of Dane Law, LLC and Robin Wagner of Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers served as co-counsel on the case.