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Illinois Settles Anti-Semetic Suit

October 17, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ A Jewish nursing home operator who accused six public health inspectors of repeatedly making anti-Semitic remarks will get a $250,000 settlement from the state.

The lawsuit also accused the inspectors of urging residents in 1991 to demand pork in their diet _ even though they knew the home maintains a kosher kitchen and residents realized that meant no pork when they moved in.

``The inspectors were saying, `Those Jews, they’re so cheap,‴ said Maria Lasko, a cook at the nursing home.

She said the inspectors also asked why milk was not served at some meals. ``I tried to explain Jewish religion says you don’t eat milk and meat together,″ she said.

Attorney Gary Starkman, who represented the state, said the money is being paid merely to end expensive litigation that could have cost taxpayers much more had it gone to trial.

``Most of these charges were made up, I believe,″ Starkman said. ``I would have wanted to hear their witnesses under oath in court.″

The visit to the Sherwin Manor nursing home, an Orthodox Jewish institution, was the regular annual inspection by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Seven inspectors visited the home, and owner Abe Osina afterward said six had made anti-Semitic remarks.

Osina’s lawyer, Howard Hoffmann, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the six employees five years ago. A federal judge threw out the lawsuit, saying it failed to raise a question of constitutional scope.

But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal by the state.

The state then offered to settle for $250,000.

Hoffmann denied that his client made up the allegations.

He said Osina pursued the case not to get the money but because he felt strongly that bigotry must not be tolerated.

``Abe Osina spent far more than $250,000 in legal fees alone,″ he said.

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