By Kristina Pritchett
City officials are continuing with two lawsuits against two sober living facilities, but they say they will offer time to those properties to present evidence that they’re operating in compliance with state law.
In June, the city filed two lawsuits against two properties—Capo by the Sea and Sobertec LLC, along with others named as the defendants—that the city says are operating in violation of applicable licensing laws, engaging in unlawful business practices and have become public nuisances.
City officials said they conducted an investigation and based on evidence collected concluded the sober living homes were providing counseling services which state law requires a license for.
“The city has concluded that these homes are an integral part of the licensed recovery facilities in question, providing the residential component of an overall treatment plan and that as such they must either be covered by the recovery centers’ licenses or have their own licenses,” a statement from the city reads.
Recently, city officials stated they will offer the defendants time to present evidence to support their position.
“It is important to recognize the city could not compel the defendants to provide information during its investigation,” city officials said.
One of the defendants in the case with Sobertec LLC is Sovereign Health Group. Seth Zajac, General Counsel for Sovereign Health, said the city’s legal actions are unjustified.
“Unwarranted legal actions, like the one initiated by the City of Dana Point, leave Sovereign Health with no choice but to take any and all legal actions to defend our patients’ rights to receive care,” Zajac said. “What is worse is that the resources Sovereign Health must use to defend these rights in court could be put to far better use to treat our patients.”
He added that Sovereign Health operates all of their treatment facilities and resident housing in full compliance with state regulations.
“If cities like Dana Point are unhappy with the way the state of California licenses treatment facilities or regulates resident housing, they should address those issues with the appropriate licensing agencies and the state legislature,” Zajac said in a statement. “If they are unhappy with the fact that mental health and addiction patients are protected by federal statutes like the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, they should take that up with Congress.”
City officials said if they do not receive evidence that shows the facilities are in full compliance, they will move forward with the lawsuits.