Court Dismisses Tenant's Disability Discrimination Claim
LVT Number: #31683
Tenant sued landlord in State Supreme Court in 2020, claiming that landlord failed to accommodate tenant's disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), mostly by failing to transfer him to a two-bedroom apartment upon his request. Landlord had the case transferred to federal court. Following a stroke in 2009, tenant developed a syndrome that caused pain, numbness, and sensory disturbances throughout the right side of his body. He moved into landlord's building in 2012 through a housing lottery. Promotional materials for the building represented that it was handicapped-accessible. In 2013, tenant's doctor prescribed crutches for his use. Tenant claimed that the building wasn't handicapped accessible, and he couldn't open a door connecting the building's lobby to its service entrance or a door that allowed residents to access a courtyard on the building's second floor. Tenant didn't allege that he brought to landlord's attention his difficulty accessing the building's courtyard. He also didn't claim that his inability to use the door connecting the lobby to the service entrance deprived him of access to any of the building's services. Tenant in fact stated that he could access the service entrance by exiting the building through the main door and re-entering through a door connecting the service entrance to the street.
In 2016, landlord modified the second-floor courtyard doors to facilitate access by people with disabilities. Between 2014 and 2015, tenant made several requests to landlord to be moved into a two-bedroom unit in any of landlord's buildings that would afford space for a live-in medical assistant, be located "in a safe location," and have an available swimming pool for exercise. Landlord's staff told tenant he would be placed on a waiting list for a two-bedroom unit if he provided a letter from his doctor reflecting his needs, and in May 2015, informed tenant that landlord didn't have any two-bedroom units available but would be notified if one became available. In subsequent correspondence, landlord said an aide could move into tenant's current unit and that he could use a pool in another building landlord owned. Tenant also described a series of incidents between 2017 and 2020 in which he was assaulted in the vicinity of, but not at, the building. He claimed that injuries he suffered in these incidents prevented his use of certain apartment facilities but didn't claim that he brought these conditions to landlord's attention.
The court granted landlord's request to dismiss tenant's disability discrimination claim without trial for failure to state a claim. Assuming that tenant had a disability within the meaning of the ADA and FHA, he failed to allege that these deficiencies had deprived him of an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his dwelling at the building. It wasn't sufficient to claim that, before 2016, he was unable to use a specific facility at the building without plausible claims that he couldn't use that facility because of his specific disability, that a reasonable accommodation could have rectified the situation, that he requested the accommodation, and that landlord failed to make that accommodation. And, among other things, landlord ultimately modified the doors in question in a manner that facilitated his access. Tenant also failed to show that landlord acted inappropriately in response to tenant's request. Landlord in fact placed tenant on a waiting list for a larger unit, permitted a medical assistant to move into his existing apartment, and gave him access to a pool in another building. The court also would not grant tenant a chance to amend his pro se complaint a second time. It had already permitted tenant to file an amended complaint once.
Currin v. Glenwood Mgmt. Corp.: Index No. 20cv6047, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195438, 2021 WL 4710485 (SDNY; 10/8/21; Cote, DJ)