General Discussion > In the News (publicly viewable board)

Aspen service-dog lawsuit headed toward settlement


Aspen service-dog lawsuit headed toward settlement
Aspen Times-3 hours ago
A legal dispute over an Aspen condominium association's handling of a tenant with a service dog is heading toward a settlement, based on a filing in Denver federal court. A joint notice of settlement filed by plaintiff Alvaro Arnal and defendants Aspen View Condominium Association, two of its board members and First ...

So... what does a case like this mean in setting precedent?  If I read the summary correctly, the condo board was asserting that the tenant didn't really have a medical issue (based on her being able to snowboard and hold down multiple jobs), and was using "it's a seizure alert dog" to sneak a pet into a no-pets building.  I assume that the tenant was arguing that they were in fact disabled and needed the service dog.  If it settles, is it like the case never happened at all?  Or can it be used in future cases?

A case that is settled out of court sets no precident.  A judge's ruling on the law is precident.  When they settle before the judge hears the case, he cannot rule on the law, only enter into the record that they reached some agreement amongst themselves.  The agreements are generally never made public.

Absolutely right, BUT
there is word-of-mouth damage that establishes sort of a street precedent.

If the condo association decided to settle based on an assessment that the cost of litigation would be greater than the amount the plaintiff was willing to accept in settlement, then ambulance chasers become more willing to take a bovine excrement case, and housing providers stop asking any questions. Bad for everyone.  This is one of the reasons that I always support legislation making it civilly actionable to make a false claim for the purpose of obtaining a benefit reserved for service dogs.  We have to give potential plaintiffs something to lose. Kirsten has written eloquently about the suffering experienced even if you win a SD access case and she's right-- unless the plaintiff is a sociopathic, entitled, horror show of a human.  They don't care. So it's a big help if the defendant can counterclaim for service dog fraud.

And on that point, I find myself thinking about something I read (maybe here?). A condo manager complained that a person with an ESD should not knowingly buy a condo in a no-pet building when there are alternatives.  There is some validity to that.  Just because the law gives us rights, it does not follow ineluctably that morality is on our side.  I would hope that an ESD owner would make an effort to find a condo where pets were welcome. Sure, if she tries, but the very best choice is a no-pets building, she can stand on her rights, but I would not blame neighbors for giving her the cold shoulder. They chose the building based on an erroneous belief that they would not have pets as neighbors. Although if I were advising property managers, I would urge them to remind potential residents that there is no such thing as a no pets building any more.

As a service dog user, I don't insist on everything I'm entitled to.  I have little interest in being somewhere I'm not welcome. And I think about how I would feel if the shoe were on the other foot. I am noise sensitive.  If I had to live in an apartment building, I would look for one that was managed well and promised to keep noise levels down. I would be really upset if a neighbor had a disability-related reason for needing to have a TV blaring so that I had to deal with the noise.

I agree. It's the social implications of settling that will still hurt our community.

I always look for pet friendly housing just because landlords are ecstatic about Olga rather than grumpy after they meet her. My current landlord thinks Olga is the bees knees, but it also has to do with low expectations of dogs because he's dealt with a lot of misbehaved pets. Our carpet smells like pee if you get close to it because it while the carpet was new upon moving in, someone down the line ruined the carpet. It makes living so much easier when you find pet friendly housing and follow the rules about asking for an acommodation.


[0] Message Index

Go to full version