In 2015, Unit Owner’s dog, Maggie, was an 11-year old golden retriever. Maggie bit another dog living at the Association and had previously “displayed aggressive behavior or injured another dog” at the Association. After the latest bite, the Association issued a notice of violation that Maggie had to be removed from the Association. The Unit Owner complied. But, in April 2016, 11 months later, the Unit Owner snuck Maggie back into his unit. The Unit Owner alleged that the return of Maggie “significantly” improved his depression for which he claimed the need of an emotional support animal. In 2017 the Association sent the Unit Owner another notice to remove Maggie or face eviction. Unit Owner sued claiming the Association refused to accommodate his disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”).
At trial the jury found (yes it went all the way to a jury so this was not cheap):
- The removal of Maggie made the residence unavailable to the Unit Owner;
- The Unit Owner was disabled under the FHA;
- The Association would not have taken adverse action against the Unit Owner but for Maggie; and
- Maggie alleviated one or more of the symptoms of the Unit Owner’s disability.
However, the jury also found that Maggie “posed a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals and no reasonable accommodation would have eliminated or acceptably minimized the risk Maggie posed.” As a result, the jury found in favor of the Association.
Continue Reading Emotional Support Animals – If It’s Aggressive, It’s Not Reasonable