Sunday, April 14, 2013

Court Approves Recovery For Chicago's Meritless Lawsuit Against Religious Group

In World Outreach Conference Center v. City of Chicago, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46943 (ND IL, April 1, 2013), on remand from the 7th Circuit (see prior posting), an Illinois federal district court resolved the remaining issues in a challenge to the City of Chicago's rezoning of a former YMCA building.  World Outreach Center, a religious organization, was delayed for two years while it obtained required licenses and permits from housing Hurricane Katrina evacuees there and from operating it as a community center.  The court rejected most of World Outreach's equal protection and religious discrimination claims. However the court held that the City had imposed a substantial burden on World Outreach by filing and maintaining a meritless lawsuit against it, and that World Outreach is entitled to recover the attorneys' fees it incurred in defending the lawsuit. It concluded that an inference of hostility to religion could be drawn from the filing of the suit.

UPDATE: An Amended Opinion was issued on June 10, 2013.