On August 9 the Department of Transportation issued its “Final Statement of Enforcement Priorities Regarding Service Animals” based on the Air Carrier Access Act and existing regulations. New regulations are on the way, but probably not any time soon,* so this Final Statement, which replaces an Interim Statement issued in May of 2018, is the most authoritative pronouncement on how DOT interprets its existing regulations. The method is a little roundabout. Instead of just saying “this regulation means such and such” DOT basically says that it will or won’t “use available resources” to enforce the regulations in certain instances. This does let airlines know what they should and shouldn’t do, which is beneficial. Unfortunately, the “Final Statement” does almost nothing to address the fundamental problems with the existing ACAA regulations. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA Miniature Horses, ADA service animals, Animals, FHA Emotional Support Animals Tags: ADA defense, Emotional Support Animals, FHA Defense, minature horses, service animals
Next Friday, May 3, I’m going to be presenting a webinar explaining how the FHA, ADA and ACAA treat animals of all kinds. Here’s the official link from the University of Texas School of Law CLE program.
Live from the UT CLE Studio on May 3, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 1.00 hour CLE, $65
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: What the ADA, FHA and Other Laws Say About Animals and Their Owners
With requests for accommodations for service animals and the like, learn how different laws cover such accommodations before referring your client to a specialist. This presentation outlines the ADA, FHA and the Air Carrier Access Actin in terms of the places covered by each. It discusses the difference between a “service animal” and every other kind of beast, and what the ADA vs. the FHA requires and what it permits in terms of verification of a need for the animal, and it also explores the rapidly developing law of what the ACAA requires and permits.
If you cannot watch the entire webcast at its scheduled time, register now and view the recorded eCourse when it is available in “Your Briefcase” after the webcast. Earn CLE credit (in TX and CA) on your time!
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Mootness, Animals, FHA Emotional Support Animals Tags: ADA defense, ADA Internet, ADA website, FHA Defense, FHA Guidelines, Glueck v National Conference of Bar Examiners, Hillesheim v Holiday Stationstores, mootness, service animals, Wetzel v Glen St. Andrew
Landlord liability for tenant discrimination
Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community, LLC, 2018 WL 4057365 (7th Cir. Aug. 27, 2018) is a critically important decision for landlords because it holds a landlord may be liable for its failure to restrain discriminatory conduct by tenants. The plaintiff is a lesbian who found herself the subject of a “torrent” of abuse from fellow tenants based on her sexual orientation that included both verbal and physical assaults. The rules of the apartment complex were similar to those of most apartments and permitted the landlord to take action against any tenant whose conduct was a threat to the health and safety of others or interfered with the peaceful use and enjoyment of the apartments. The plaintiff reported the abuse to management, who did nothing about it. In fact, they engaged in various kinds of conduct that essentially punished the plaintiff for complaining. When the plaintiff finally sued under the Fair Housing Act the landlord’s defense was that it could not be held liable for discrimination by other tenants. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, FHA, FHA Emotional Support Animals Tags: assistance animals, Emotional Support Animals, Fair Housing Act, FHA, reasonable accommodation, service animals
The October 17, 2017 decision by Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas in Houston v. DTN Operating Company et al., 2017 WL 4653246 (E.D.Tex 2017) is good news for landlords confronted by bogus internet diagnoses of disability. There is a vexing lack of authority concerning just what constitutes sufficient evidence of a disability to require a landlord to allow an emotional support animal, and Judge Mazzant’s opinion makes it clear that the kind of letter typically purchased on the internet (or supplied by local physicians who don’t understand the law) won’t do. More
The National Psychologist’s January/February 2017 edition includes Richard’s article “What is a disability, anyway?” The article explains for mental health professionals why caution is needed in diagnosing a “disability” when the term has a legal, rather than a medical, meaning. You can read the full text of the article at The National Psychologist online edition. Those who are interested in the ways in which sloppy and even unprofessional diagnosis are feeding a boom in fake emotional support animal requests should check our earlier blog Just Say “No” to bogus ESA requests and email for a copy of our webinar on dealing with fake requests for emotional support animals.