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GNOFHAC Settles Lawsuit on Behalf of Woman Alleging Willful and Callous Discrimination Against People with Disabilities

Posted on 05. Aug, 2019 by

New Orleans—Today, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) announced the settlement of a federal lawsuit against the owners and property managers of a Covington apartment complex, alleging they refused multiple requests to move a wheelchair-bound resident to available first floor apartments. As part of the settlement, the defendants will receive fair housing training, change policies related to residents with disabilities, and pay $205,000 in damages and attorneys fees.

Ms. Susan McMullen, the plaintiff in the action and a resident of the Palmetto Greens Apartment Homes, first requested to move into a first floor apartment in the summer of 2017 after surgery left her requiring the use of a wheelchair. Her apartment was on the second floor and was accessible only by stairs. Ms. McMullen alleged that, over the course of the next year, she made three additional requests to be moved to first floor units, all of which were denied by the property managers for the building, CF Real Estate Services. In the meantime, she was left to the humiliating and dangerous task of crawling down the stairs or calling 9-1-1 any time she needed to take out her trash, pick up her mail, drop off her rent, go to church, visit with friends, purchase groceries, or go to doctor’s appointments.

The St. Tammany fire district responded to over 100 calls to Ms. McMullen’s apartment. Additionally, Ms. McMullen’s complaint alleged the fire chief implored CF Real Estate Services personnel to move Ms. McMullen to a first floor apartment. She also alleged that the property managers responded to her requests by placing her at the bottom of a waitlist, even though at least one ground floor apartment was vacant at the time.

Only after GNOFHAC attorneys and the law firm of Bizer & DeReus filed suit against the complex owners and property managers on behalf of Ms. McMullen, did CF Real Estate Services offer Ms. McMullen a ground floor unit.

“The defendants in this case showed a callous and reckless disregard for Ms. McMullen’s safety and civil rights as a person with a disability,” said Cashauna Hill, executive director of GNOFHAC. “The Fair Housing Act clearly entitles people with disabilities to the sort of reasonable accommodation Ms. McMullen requested. Anyone who believes they’ve been denied such an accommodation should contact GNOFHAC at (504) 596-2100,” she continued.

The settlement ensures that people with disabilities are prioritized for units that are designed to meet ADA standards and applies to nine apartment complexes across Southeast Louisiana, including:

Palmetto Green Apartments, Covington
Pine Crest Apartments, Covington
North Shore Apartments, Slidell
Lakeside Apartments, Slidell
Riverview Apartments, Chalmette
Parc Place Apartments, Chalmette
Wood Crest Apartments, Chalmette
Magnolia Park Apartments, Chalmette
Marquis Apartments, New Orleans

Ms. McMullen was represented by the law firm of Bizer & DeReus and GNOFHAC attorneys Elizabeth Owen and Peter Theis.

See the full complaint here.

Contact: Maxwell Ciardullo, 504-273-6769, mciardullo@gnofairhousing.org

The work that provided the basis for this release was supported, in part, by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this release. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government. 

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