Condo association paying $20K after refusing dog request

Michael P. Tremoglie Feb. 28, 2012, 10:00am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The Justice Department announced Monday that a $20,000 consent decree has been signed by a Park City, Utah, condominium association and its management company for violating the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit alleged that the Fox Point at Redstone Association, Property Management Systems and on-site property manager Derek Peterson refused to grant Thomas Burton, a disabled Gulf War combat veteran, a "reasonable accommodation."

According to the announcement Mr. Burton wanted to keep a small dog in his condominium to help him cope with the effects of depression and anxiety disorder. The lawsuit also accused the defendants of refusing to waive their pet fees and insurance requirements and issuing multiple fines that eventually led to the non-renewal of Burton's lease.

The defendants will pay $20,000 in monetary relief to Burton as per the terms of the consent decree - which was entered by the U.S. District Court in Utah. The defendants will also have to attend fair housing training; implement a new reasonable accommodation policy that does not charge pet fees to owners of service or assistance animals and does not require them to purchase liability insurance; and comply with notice, monitoring and reporting requirements.

"In this case, a combat veteran was denied an assistance animal for his disability," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We are pleased that this settlement will compensate Mr. Burton and protect the housing rights of others who need this accommodation."

Burton initially filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. After HUD's investigation of the complaint, a charge of discrimination was issued. Fox Point elected to have the case heard in federal court.

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