By Nick Ferraro . . . A sex offender who sued West St. Paul over its 2016 ordinance that restricted where he could live will receive $84,000 as part of a settlement agreement approved by a federal judge Monday.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge John Tunheim entered an order that dismissed without prejudice the lawsuit that Level 1 sex offender Thomas Wayne Evenstad filed against the city in August. As part of the settlement, both parties will pay their own costs and attorney fees.
West St. Paul is among at least 84 cities, townships or counties in Minnesota with residency restrictions for sex offenders, according to the Department of Corrections.
But Evenstad, 52, and his attorneys argued that West St. Paul’s ordinance was too broad and unconstitutional because it imposed retroactive punishment by banishing him from almost all of the city.
Tunheim agreed, granting in January Evenstad’s motion for a preliminary injunction that prevented the city from enforcing the ordinance against him. Tunheim concluded that Evenstad likely would prevail with his lawsuit in trial because the ordinance is “significantly more restrictive than those upheld by the 8th Circuit.”
Adele Nicholas, a Chicago civil rights attorney who agreed to take on Evenstad’s lawsuit, said Monday that she and Evenstad are pleased with the result.
“We think Judge Tunheim’s decision is really important because it establishes that municipalities don’t have unlimited discretion to pass law that restricts where people are allowed to live. There are some limitations and the restrictions have to be reasonable,” she said.