Thursday, May 23, 2013

Janush v. Charities Housing Development Corp. case brief

Janush v. Charities Housing Development Corp. case brief 169 F.Supp.2d 1133 
CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff renter sued defendants, her landlord and two of its agents, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for disability discrimination based on the failure to provide a reasonable accommodation. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

FACTS: The renter suffered from a severe mental health disability. She had pets--two birds and two cats---that lessened the effects of her disability and, according to her psychiatrist, were necessary to her mental health. The renter's lease contained a "no pets" clause. When her pets were discovered in her apartment, discussions began between the renter and defendants about whether she could keep the animals there. Eventually, defendants filed eviction proceedings against the renter. The renter moved out but, before doing so, she filed the instant lawsuit. Seeking dismissal or summary judgment, defendants appeared to argue that California's definition of a "service dog," Cal. Civ. Code § 54.1(c)(6)(iii), should be read into the FHA to create a bright-line rule that accommodation of animals other than service dogs was per se unreasonable. The court noted that the implementing regulations provided a broad definition of service animals and that defendants had not established that there was no duty reasonably to accommodate non-service animals. The renter adequately pled her discrimination claim, and summary judgment would be premature, since no discovery had yet occurred.

CONCLUSION: The court denied the motion to dismiss and the alternative motion for summary judgment.

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