Service Dogs and some Nasty Lawsuits

guest blog by Deborah Goonan

Not a week goes by that we don’t learn of yet another Fair Housing lawsuit, usually involving discrimination on the basis of disability. This time, the Condo Association will have to answer to two lawsuits, one filed by the owner of a condo unit, and the other by his former tenant.

The latest report comes from Aspen View Condominiums in Colorado. Natasha MacArthur leased one of the 18 units from condo owner Alvara Arnal, beginning in November 2013. MacArthur has a golden retriever, and claims her dog, Stevie Nicks, helps her cope with a seizure disorder.

The condo association forbids dogs, but MacArthur claims her pet is a service animal, and that the association is obligated under Fair Housing law to provide reasonable accommodation to allow Stevie Nicks to reside with her.

According to a report in the Aspen Times, MacArthur provided documentation of her disability from a physician, as well as documentation from the organization that trained the dog as a service animal. The former (now deceased) president of the association interviewed MacArthur in her home for 45 minutes. But the association was still not satisfied that the information provided was sufficient to allow the dog to remain.

Aspen View COA then began fining owner Arnal $50 per day in January 2014. MacArthur moved out of the unit in March 2014, prior to the end of her lease.

Arnal was hit with $1435 in fines, plus $4234 in attorney fees in June. A lien was placed on his unit in July 2014.

In addition to MacArthur’s Fair Housing complaint, Arnal has filed suit against the association and its management company, alleging discrimination, retaliation, and interference with a contract.

The remaining 17 owners of Aspen View better open up their wallets. These two lawsuits will probably cost them a great deal of money in legal expenses and the eventual settlements.

For readers interested in learning more about service animals for people with seizure disorders, I have provided some additional links.

(Aspen HOA denies wrongdoing in service-dog flap)

 

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About

Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

2 thoughts on “Service Dogs and some Nasty Lawsuits

  1. Pingback: COLORADO – Service Dogs and Some Nasty Lawsuits | HOA Reform Coalition

  2. AngelaB

    This is insane. The woman provided documentation. I do understand that the HOA doesn’t allow pets and doesn’t want other residents to think they can have a pet too, but service animals are always exceptions.

    Reply

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