Omni House Wins $10,000 In Discrimination Case

April 17, 1992|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

A federal judge has ordered a prominent Glen Burnie developer to pay$10,000 in damages to a program for the mentally ill that won a housing discrimination suit against him.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J.Garbis also told developer Frank J. Scott to pay legal fees stemmingfrom the suit over 12 two-bedroom condominiums in Cromwell Fountain,a 900-unit complex under construction off New Ordnance Road.

The judge ruled in June that Scott had violated fair housing lawsby canceling a $1.4 million sales agreement with Omni House, a rehabilitation program for mentally ill people.

The judge's decision gave 16 patients confined to Crownsville Hospital Center a chance to move into homes and lead more normal lives. Omni House also moved eightclients who were living in rented apartments to Cromwell Fountain.

Scott's company, Cromwell Fountain Associates, finished building the condominiums by the end of July. In September, the last of the OmniHouse clients moved into the community, Nathan said.

Omni House initially asked for $500,000 in punitive damages, along with $8,400 inlost fees, housing subsidies and expenses. The judge granted the fees, but only $10,000 in penalties.

"We're very pleased," Susan Nathan, Omni House's attorney, said yesterday. "In a case like this, $10,000 is significant."

Omni House and James G., a 27-year-old patient at Crownsville, sued the developer last April for housing discrimination. During a two-day trial, witnesses testified that a sales agreement with Omni House was suddenly revoked amid fears of patients "going berserk" and endangering residents of Cromwell Fountain.

Scott and John Pantelides, who heads management and sales, said the companypulled out because of financial concerns. Neither could be reached for comment yesterday.

Nathan said Omni House has had no problems since moving its clients into Cromwell Fountain.

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