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Lawsuit over Clinton mental health facility lands in federal court

3 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Monday, June 05 2023 Jun 5, 2023 June 05, 2023 11:57 AM June 05, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A legal battle initially slated for state court has landed in the federal system, which may now determine the fate of a planned mental health care facility in Clinton.

Harmony Behavioral Health filed its lawsuit in March after running into what it claims were unfair steps by the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury and building officials there. The lawsuit is now in the US District Court based in Baton Rouge.

The filing details interactions between parish officials that Harmony suggests demonstrates a concerted effort to prevent the facility from opening.

Harmony plans to house more than 100 patients at the site of the former Grace Lane Nursing Home. The company has a contract with the State to provide care and shelter for patients who require a secured facility.

The plans to convert the building to serve that purpose have spurred staunch resistance by some in the community. Parish leaders said that Harmony failed to file for necessary permits before it began renovations.

The company, meanwhile, has laid out what it believes to be discriminatory obstacles intended to derail its effort.

When the initial case was filed, Harmony indicated that swift action was needed to meet deadlines that included a June 1 opening. The case made its was to federal court on June 2, and it was not clear how long it would take for any action there.

Harmony claims damages to date already amounts to seven figures. The lawsuit further claims that in the event that the conduct of the defendants leads to a termination of (an agreement between Harmony and the Louisiana Department of Health), Harmony will be damaged by such termination as follows:

* Loss of income - $102,467,121.12

* Loss of renovation cost - $4,500,000.00

The lawsuit seeks a Court order to immediately issue a building permit.

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