N.J. condo association agrees to settlement over discrimination‏

Nick Rees Dec. 24, 2009, 1:56am

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - A former resident of an Ocean county condominium association has been paid $24,000 to settle allegations that it unlawfully discriminated against the resident by refusing to move her assigned parking space closer to her u nit despite a doctor's letter that indicated it was medically warranted.

Leisure Village East Association of Lakewood, in addition to the payment to complainant Rita Angermeier, announced today by the Division on Civil Rights, will pay the Division $6,000. Additionally, specific policies, procedures and forms have been developed by the association for handling future requests for "reasonable accommodation" under the Law Against Discrimination.

Angermeier suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She filed a discrimination complaint against the association in 2007 following a request that was denied for an assigned parking space that would reduce the distance of the 150 foot walk to her car. The denial came despite a doctor's letter that verified Angermeier had limited ability to walk.

Angermeier moved out of Leisure Village East after filing her complaint because she felt that she could not wait for resolution on the complaint. She now lives in an different condo complex with parking within a few feet of her door.

In a separate settlement agreement, the Leisure Village East Association has agreed to accommodate another resident, Barbara A. Murphy-Gabat, who uses a walker. Under the settlement, the condo association will replace its shuttle bus with one equipped with an activated lower step. A new bus stop equipped with a bench will also be built at the end of Murphy-Gabat's street.

Murphy-Gabat had filed a complaint that stated she could not take her walker on shopping trips as the shuttle bus Leisure Village East leased did not have an activated lower step.

"These settlements are important, not only for the individual complainants involved, but in a broader sense," Chinh Q. Le, Division on Civil Rights Director, said. "Condominium associations have a duty under the law to make reasonable accommodation for the disabled, and these settlements represent an acknowledgment of that duty by the Leisure Village East Association. It's our hope these cases will serve as a reminder, and an example, for condominium associations throughout the state."

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