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State Asks Court to Dismiss Sheppard Pratt Suit

The state says a Ruxton man has no legal standing to challenge a controversial group home.

 

In response to a February lawsuit, the Maryland Attorney General's Office says Ruxton residents have no standing to sue to prevent a planned group home in the neighborhood.

In a motion accompanied by a 42-page memorandum filed last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court, lawyers for the state asked the court to dismiss the by resident Thomas Costello against health officials and Sheppard Pratt Health Systems.

The state asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit or declare a summary judgment. A hearing in the case has not yet been scheduled.

bought the home at 1506 LaBelle Ave. last year and plans a group home to serve six low-risk patients suffering from illnesses such as depression or anxiety. The plans remain controversial in the Ruxton Heights neighborhood, where residents continue to campaign against the home with online protests and yard signs.

Costello's allegations include that the group home is a for-profit endeavor aimed at wealthy out-of-state clientele, and that the low-risk patients who would be housed there are not sufficiently impaired to fall under state laws.

He also claimed that state health officials denied him a hearing to challenge their issuance of a group home license to Sheppard Pratt. That license was . 

However, in the memorandum, the state claims that under the federal Fair Housing Act, the state was required to approve Sheppard Pratt's license. And under state and federal case law, attorneys say, Costello does not have standing to sue. Read the documents attached to this story.

"Moreover, Mr. Costello can identify no harms that would flow from the issuance of the license other than vague assertions of harm arising from his own property's contiguity to a proposed group home that he believes will be too 'opulent' for Ruxton and will serve 'wealthy' people whose mental illnesses he does not regard as legitimate," the attorneys wrote.

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