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April 10, 2014

Settlement reached in City Rescue Mission lawsuit

NEW CASTLE — A lawsuit filed against the City Rescue Mission by a vision-impaired man has been settled.

The case’s settlement was reported in a filing on the U.S. District Court docket Tuesday.

Kenneth DeFiore of Lawrence County sued the mission in November 2012, claiming it had refused to provide him with shelter services on Dec. 5, 2011, and was in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1988.

His complaint stated he had been told he could not take his service dog — a chocolate Labrador retriever — into the facility and that the mission had no facilities for animals.

DeFiore had requested shelter following eviction after an apartment fire and remained homeless until Dec. 22, according to the lawsuit.

Terms of the settlement were not released.

Attempts Wednesday to reach attorneys for DeFiore and the mission were unsuccessful.

In July 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil complaint in district court against the mission, making similar claims that it had violated the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. That case is still pending.

Kevin A. Green, executive director and chief executive officer of the mission, said in an email that he could not comment on the settlement, noting he does not have those documents or details of what had been filed by counsel.

Regarding the Justice Department suit, Green said, “City Rescue Mission continues to deny the allegations set forth in the complaints by Kenneth DeFiore and the Department of Justice. City Rescue Mission also denies that Mr. DeFiore was asked to leave the Crossroads Emergency Shelter at any time.

“The only communication Mr. DeFiore had with City Rescue Mission in December 2011 was over the telephone, after which, he was given the opportunity to apply for emergency shelter services in person. However, Mr. DeFiore never appeared.

“City Rescue Mission maintains that had Mr. Defiore applied for emergency shelter services in person, he would not have been turned away.

“City Rescue Mission’s Crossroads Emergency Shelter is a Christian ministry. As such, the provisions of the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act cited by Mr. DeFiore and the Department of Justice do not apply.

“As the litigation is still pending, City Rescue Mission understands that all the facts in this case have not been presented. Therefore, instead of trying this case in the media, City Rescue Mission looks forward to the opportunity to present its defense in this matter at a later date.”

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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