Woman with support animal claims discrimination against HOA

By Carrie Bradon | Jun 2, 2018

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson speaks at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.   Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

FORT MYERS – A Port Charlotte woman in a lawsuit claims she was denied her emotional support dog at her home, which caused her a great deal of distress.

Kailani Carlson seeks damages against Sunshine Villas HOA Inc, Allan Nielsen and Doris Walters following an incident in which she claims she was deprived her emotional support dog at her home, where it was needed to help her manage her post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. The plaintiff complains the defendant violated the federal Fair Housing Act, as well as the Florida Consumer Credit Protection Act.

Sunshine Villas is located in Port Charlotte and Walters is the vice president of the Sunshine Villas HOA and is the owner of the plaintiff's unit, while Nielsen is the registered agent and treasurer of the Sunshine Villas HOA.

Carlson is an individual who has reportedly been diagnosed with PTSD and is treated by doctors for her condition. 

In April 2017, the plaintiff's doctor recommended that she acquire an emotional support dog. The plaintiff has resided with her minor daughter at the Sunshine Villas in Port Charlotte for about 3 years. 

In September, the plaintiff spoke with Walters about the ESA (emotional support animal) and gave Walters a written request for accommodating the animal, as well as a letter from the doctor. While Walters did not say no to the ESA, he did ask that the plaintiff clean up after the dog.

On Sept. 26, Walters told the plaintiff in a letter she was not allowed to have her dog at the home, even though the plaintiff provided Walters with a second letter from her doctor. Then, on Oct. 6, the plaintiff was sent a final notice to vacate and that she was now on month-to-month rental basis.

Carlson complains this month-to-month basis has made her feel as though she could be evicted at any moment and is therefore insecure. The defendant has also moved to dismiss the plaintiff's FHA claims and this motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is granted, but only that the "disparate treatment portion of Count I is dismissed without prejudice." Otherwise, the court denied the defendants' motions.

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