W. Easton Two, LP v. Borough Council of W. Easton

Decision Date25 September 2020
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 19-801
Citation489 F.Supp.3d 333
Parties WEST EASTON TWO, LP, Plaintiff, v. BOROUGH COUNCIL OF WEST EASTON and Borough of West Easton, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania

John S. Harrison, James F. Preston, Broughal & Devito LLP, Bethlehem, PA, for Plaintiff.

Steven Goudsouzian, Steven N. Goudsouzian, Esq., Easton, PA, for Defendants.


Smith, J.

The plaintiff, a corporate entity seeking a permit to operate a residential treatment center, drafted a proposed ordinance to permit this use for consideration by the defendant. The defendant, a Borough and corresponding Borough Council, enacted the proposed ordinance. The plaintiff now sues, claiming the defendants violated (1) the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses; (2) the Rehabilitation Act; and (3) the Americans with Disabilities Act when they enacted an ordinance with specific criteria pertaining only to residential treatment centers and when they denied its three conditional use applications. The plaintiff claims the ordinance facially violates the statutes and the Constitution and the manner in which the defendants applied the ordinance to it constitutes an as-applied violation.

The defendants have moved to have the court enter summary judgment in their favor. The court concludes there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude granting summary judgment on these claims. Accordingly, the court denies the defendantsmotion for summary judgment.


The plaintiff, West Easton Two, LP, commenced this action by filing a complaint against the Borough Council of West Easton and the Borough of West Easton on February 25, 2019. Doc. No. 1. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that it planned to "operate a comprehensive, medically supervised and licensed inpatient substance abuse treatment services facility" in the borough. Compl. at ¶ 7. The plaintiff intends to use methadone to treat some of its patients at this facility. Id. at ¶ 8.

The plaintiff's facility would be located in a light industrial ("L-I") zoning district in the borough. Id. at ¶ 12. Residential treatment centers and offices are included as permitted uses in the L-I zoning district. Id. at ¶ 13. The proposed facility would be located at a property that includes a Northampton County DUI Center. Id. at ¶ 11.

The defendants adopted an ordinance, Ordinance No. 966, on September 23, 2013. Id. at ¶ 14. This ordinance stated that, inter alia , (1) the residential treatment center cannot distribute methadone to patients on an outpatient basis, (2) a third party must drop off and pick up any patients entering or leaving the center, and (3) any patient residing at the center must pay a $150 temporary resident fee. Id. at ¶ 16.

The plaintiff submitted a conditional use application on November 29, 2017, for which the defendants held three hearings. Id. at ¶¶ 20–21. The plaintiff alleges that members of the Borough Council of West Easton made statements evidencing their discrimination against individuals needing drug and alcohol treatment during the hearings. Id. at ¶¶ 22–23. Ultimately, the defendants denied the conditional use application. Id. at ¶ 24. The plaintiff contends that this denial was discriminatory. Id. at ¶ 25.

Based on these allegations, the plaintiff brings an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in count I of the complaint claiming that the defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses because both the "Ordinance and denial of the Conditional Use application and attempt to prevent Plaintiff Treatment Center from opening is arbitrary, based on irrational prejudices against, and perceptions of methadone patients and patients suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and is not rationally related to any legitimate government interests." Id. at ¶ 30. In count II, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, because "Defendant Borough's attempts to prevent the Treatment Center from opening and failure to grant the Treatment Center's Conditional Use application is a covered activity within the meaning of the Rehabilitation Act." Id. at ¶ 38. In count III, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"), because of their "discriminatory actions including the adoption of different standards for ‘treatment centers’ than for other medical clinics and businesses, the application of these standards to the Treatment Center, and the failure to grant Plaintiff Treatment Center's Conditional Use application." Id. at ¶ 45. The plaintiff seeks for relief: (1) a declaration that the defendants"Ordinance, actions and inaction in failing to permit [it] to occupy the Medical Office violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;" (2) a permanent injunction enjoining Defendants from continuing to violate the United States Constitution, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;" (3) "an injunction requiring Defendants, within five (5) days of Court Order, to issue [it] a permit for occupancy for a medical drug and alcohol treatment center at the Medical Office;" (4) damages; and (5) attorney's fees and costs. Id. at 7–8.

The defendants filed an answer to the complaint on March 21, 2019. Doc. No. 6. After the parties completed with discovery, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on November 20, 2019. Doc. No. 14. The defendants appended exhibits in support of the motion for summary judgment on November 26, 2019. Doc. No. 16. The plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment along with a number of exhibits on December 16, 2019, December 17, 2019, and December 18, 2019. Doc. Nos. 17–28. The defendants filed a reply brief in further support of the motion for summary judgment on December 23, 2019. Doc. No. 30.

The court held oral argument on the motion for summary judgment and a settlement conference with counsel for the parties and the parties’ representatives on January 30, 2020. Doc. Nos. 31, 32, 39. On that same date, and with permission of the court, the plaintiff filed a response to the defendants’ statement of uncontested facts. Doc No. 38.

During the pendency of this litigation, the parties made the court aware that there was a pending state court appeal from the defendants’ decision relating to the plaintiff's conditional use application. The court held a telephone conference with counsel for the parties on June 22, 2020 to discuss the status of this related state court appeal. Doc. No. 42. After the telephone conference, the court ordered that the parties supplement the record to indicate how the most recent state court decision impacted the ongoing federal case and the pending motion for summary judgment. Doc. No. 44. The defendants filed a brief in response to the court's request on July 8, 2020, arguing that the plaintiff no longer had standing in this court because of the state court's order. Doc. No. 45. The plaintiff filed a brief in reply to the defendants’ argument on August 21, 2020. Doc. No. 46. The court held oral argument on the additional briefing on August 25, 2020. Doc. No. 47.

The defendantsmotion for summary judgment is now ripe for resolution.


The uncontested material facts are as follows. The Borough of West Easton ("Borough") is a small borough of approximately 0.3 square miles with a population of less than 1,500 people. Defs.’ Concise Statement of Undisputed Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.’ Facts") at ¶ 3, Doc. No. 14-1; Pl.’s Resp. to Defs.’ Statement of Uncontested Facts ("Pl.’s Resp.") at ¶ 3, Doc. No. 38. The Borough Council of West Easton ("Borough Council") is the governing body of the Borough. Defs.’ Facts at ¶ 4; Pl.’s Resp. at ¶ 4.

The plaintiff owns property in the Borough's Light Industrial Zoning District. Defs.’ Facts at ¶¶ 5–6; Pl.’s Resp. at ¶¶ 5–6. The property is located in the Reda Complex, an eight-acre parcel that houses several different buildings. Defs.’ Facts, Ex. A, Dep. of Abraham Atiyeh ("Atiyeh Dep."), at 8:2–22, Doc. No. 16-1. Abraham Atiyeh owns the entire complex, and there are approximately four to eight buildings within the Complex. See id. (stating that there are eight buildings in complex); Defs.’ Facts, Ex. B, Dep. of Mickey K. Thompson, Esq. ("Thompson Dep."), at 17:12–22, Doc. No. 16-2 (stating that there are four buildings included in complex). Northampton County operates a DUI Center in Building A, and Buildings B and C are vacant. Atiyeh Dep. at 8; Defs.’ Facts, Ex. M, Pl.’s Nov. 29, 2017 Conditional Use Application ("Nov. 2017 Appl.") at ECF p. 1, Doc. No. 16-4; Defs.’ Facts, Ex. Q, Borough Council's Decision on Pl.’s Conditional Use Application ("Decision") at ECF p. 78, Doc. No. 16–5.1 However, Mr. Atiyeh sought to put a 176-bed rehabilitation treatment center in Building B. Nov. 2017 Appl. at ECF p. 2; Decision at ECF p. 78.

The plaintiff, by and through its employee, Mickey K. Thompson, Esq., drafted ordinances to accommodate its development plans for Building B. Defs.’ Facts at ¶ 11; Pl.’s Resp. at ¶ 11. Attorney Thompson presented these ordinances to the Borough Council for passage. Defs.’ Facts at ¶ 11; Pl.’s Resp. at ¶ 11. Attorney Thompson testified that he agreed to include certain provisions in the ordinances because the Borough Council would not have passed the ordinances otherwise. See Thompson Dep. at 29:16–20 ("Well, I think it was pretty much couched to us that we would not be able to get any development approved or passed unless there was some way for the borough to make up for whatever issues were going to be occurring because of the proposed uses."); id. at 52:24–53:3 ("I knew or they told us that they...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Colasanti v. City of Portland
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • August 19, 2021
    ... ... seek reasonable accommodations (claim two) under Title I of ... the Americans with Disabilities ... individuals with disabilities. See W. Easton Two, LP v ... Borough Council of W. Easton , 489 ... ...
  • Lehenky v. Toshiba Am. Energy Sys. Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • February 22, 2022
    ... ... did not present for screening until two days later. (Compl ... ¶ 35, Ex. B, §§ E(5), Ex ... W ... Easton Two, LP v. Borough Council of W. Easton, 489 ... ...
  • Allentown Victory Church v. City of Allentown
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • September 2, 2022
    ... ... Sunlight of Spirit House, Inc. v. Borough of N. Wales, ... Pa. , No. 16-cv-909, 2019 WL 233883, ... County .” (emphasis added)); W. Easton Two, LP ... v. Borough Council of W. Easton , 489 ... ...

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT