An individual who uses a wheelchair and his mother filed this Fair Housing suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on July 27, 2006. The plaintiff had moved into a ground floor unit in a development known as the Uptown Apartments, part of a "new urbanism" complex that includes about 300 apartments, a pool, club house, exercise gym, meeting areas and a business office. The developers had also cooperated with Canton Township to build adjacent shopping and entertainment facilities.
When the plaintiff moved in, he discovered multiple accessibility problems inside the unit. Defendants assured him they would be fixed, but they never were. Additionally, at the front door to the apartment, there were concrete steps, making it impossible for him to enter. Instead, he had to use the back door after navigating driveways and parking lots whose slopes made entering his home treacherous.
The conditions at the development trapped the plaintiff in his home. His only outside access was the back parking lot. He was unable to get to the common areas and had virtually no contact with his neighbors.
Finally, after making repeated requests that the necessary modifications be made, the plaintiff filed suit against the owner/contrator, the architect, and the engineer responsible for constructing and operating the inaccessible development. His mother intervened as a plaintiff because the conditions, along with her own disabilities, made it extremely difficult for her to visit her son. The local fair housing center ("the FHC"), which had first taken the plaintiffs' complaint and investigated, also intervened, and on September 7, 2007, the individual plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding Canton Township as a party.
After months of acrimonious meetings, the parties entered into various settlement agreements. The individual plaintiffs entered a confidential settlement agreement with the non-public-entity defendants for an undisclosed sum of money, plus attorney fees and costs, after significant modifications had been made, including rebuilding the front of the building to eliminate the steps. They then settled with the Township for $75,000.00 and retrofitting of sidewalks and curb ramps
On July 28, 2009, the FHC entered into a settlement with the owner/ contractor, engineering, and architect defendants requiring exterior modifications to the development, including accessible routes and parking, and interior modifications to the covered residential units including, at the request of the tenant, beveling exterior sides of primary entry doors, increasing turning space, retrofitting of bathrooms, and other modifications required by the Fair Housing Act and its implementing regulations. Defendants agreed to pay $45,000.00 in damages to the FHC.
The case was closed on July 29, 2009.Denise Heberle - 08/30/2012