Settlement reached in pregnancy testing center’s lawsuit against city of Elgin
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN January 23, 2014 12:04PM
Updated: February 25, 2014 6:22AM
ELGIN — The city and a pregnancy testing center have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over Elgin’s enforcement of zoning regulations that the center said prevented it from providing services to women in the community.
The agreement between the city and The Life Center Inc. provides for the settlement and dismissal of the lawsuit.
A press release issued Thursday by the city states, “The city and TLC entered into a settlement agreement on Jan. 16 providing for the settlement and dismissal of the lawsuit. The settlement includes the dismissal of the subject lawsuit, the city agreeing to provide for certain amendments to its temporary use regulations and the city paying attorneys’ fees and court costs.
“The settlement agreement provides for an amicable resolution of the matter and allows the parties to avoid additional expenses relating to the litigation.”
Elgin Corporate Counsel William Cogley said the settlement was for $280,000, which covered a portion of TLC’s legal costs.
The city had been in court appealing a ruling by U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan in a case brought by The Life Center Inc., operating as TLC Pregnancy Services. It centered on a city council amendment to Elgin’s zoning regulations that was passed in June 2012. It classified TLC’s mobile facility and a number of other mobile operations as a “temporary land use.” It limited them to only four uses per year at any one location, by permit, and provided for charging fees for such setups.
The suit was filed on behalf of TLC by the firm Mauck & Baker in federal court in early March 2013 and claimed that zoning restrictions put in place by Elgin restricted women from getting TLC’s services from its mobile unit parked at two locations near Larkin High School.
Der-Yeghiayan ruled in August that Elgin was permanently enjoined from enforcing the temporary use provision of its zoning regulations, a move that allowed The Life Center to continue to offer its mobile pregnancy services for the time being.
On Dec. 13, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Elgin’s motion to halt the lawsuit. In a press release on that ruling, TLC attorney John Mauck stated, “We have also told Elgin it could settle this lawsuit simply by paying our legal expenses.”
According to the city’s release, Elgin continues to maintain that the city’s rules at issue “are fair, impartial and lawful. The city has also previously stated that it has been willing to consider alternatives to further accommodate TLC’s use of its mobile ultrasound facility. The settlement agreement between the parties includes amendments to the city’s temporary use regulations to further accommodate TLC’s use of its mobile ultrasound vehicle while at the same time maintaining reasonable and necessary regulations for temporary uses within the city’s zoning ordinance.”
“The city has also maintained throughout this matter that no member of the city council or city staff targeted TLC’s mobile facility or attempted to shut down their services. The facts and evidence support this assertion,” the city’s release states.
Cogley said the agreement, with ordinance amendments in place, vacates the court’s prior order that it was too broad and vague, thus allowing the zoning rules to be put back in place.
A release from Mauck & Baker states, “TLC Pregnancy Services has alleged that certain Elgin officials improperly sought to limit their provision of free ultrasound and pregnancy services to women in Elgin. Certain facts and evidence support this assertion. However, this litigation has been settled amicably. TLC wishes to emphasize that it has sought or received nothing from the city beyond the freedom to serve the women in the Elgin community and partial reimbursement for some of its legal expenses. Therefore, the parties agreed to disagree on a number of issues and move forward with their compatible objectives in serving the people of Elgin.”
“We are relieved that a settlement has been reached with the city of Elgin. Our main concern was always having the freedom to park TLC’s ultrasound mobile unit in Elgin where the need is the greatest,” TLC executive director Vivian Maly stated in a release. “We now look ahead to serving the women and families in our community with the support of the leadership in the city of Elgin.”
“TLC is grateful for Mauck & Baker’s excellent representation and diligent work on behalf of expectant mothers and unborn children in Elgin,” Elgin attorney and TLC board chairman John Juergensmeyer stated in the release.
“TLC wishes to thank the mayor and members of the Elgin City Council for their repeated individual expressions of support for TLC’s services to the Elgin community.”