United States District Court, S.D. Florida
KATIUSKA VELEZ, individually, and as parent and guardian for BRANDON VELEZ, Plaintiff,
CORAL GATE WEST CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendants.
P. GAYLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. [ECF No. 9]. The
Court has reviewed the Motion, the record, and applicable law
and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons that follow,
Defendant's Motion is denied.
action, Katiuska Velez (“Plaintiff”),
individually and as parent and guardian for Brandon Velez
(“Brandon”), alleges that Coral Gate West
Condominium Association, Inc. (“Defendant”)
evicted her and her son because of his disability and failed
to make reasonable accommodations for his disability in
violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42
U.S.C. § 3604(f).
Allegations in the Complaint
20, 2014, Plaintiff and Brandon moved into a rental apartment
at Coral Gate West Condominium. [ECF No. 1 at ¶ 8].
Brandon is a 23-year-old man with an intellectual disability,
autism, and bi-polar disorder and is therefore considered
“handicapped” under 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
Id. at ¶ 4. When Plaintiff first moved into the
apartment, she asked for an accommodation in the form of a
parking space for her mother who would come to watch Brandon
while Plaintiff was at work. Id. at ¶ 9.
Throughout their tenancy, Defendant's property manager
informed Plaintiff that Brandon was not allowed in the
hallways or permitted to stand by the elevators because
“people thought that Brandon looked weird and that he
may scare people.” Id. at ¶ 16.
Defendant's property manager required that Plaintiff
install locks in their apartment to prevent Brandon from
wandering the halls. Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff
complied and installed a padlock on the interior of the door.
July 2015 and July 2016, Brandon had three behavioral
incidents because of his disability. [ECF No. 1 at ¶
11]. In the first, Brandon was by the pool playing with a
relative and detached a water fountain from the wall.
Id. at ¶ 12. In the second, Brandon entered the
unlocked apartment of another resident, mistaking this
resident for a friend. Id. at ¶ 13. In the
third, while he was off of his medications, Brandon punched a
window in the laundry room. Id. at ¶ 14.
Despite these incidences, Defendant renewed her lease in July
2016. Id. at ¶ 15.
December 19, 2016, a security camera recorded Brandon locking
himself in the public laundry room and masturbating in front
of a washing machine. Id. at ¶ 17. The
following day, Defendant issued a formal notice to vacate the
unit. Plaintiff pleaded that she and Brandon were good
tenants and explained how difficult it would be for her and
Brandon to relocate in such little time. [ECF No. 1 at ¶
December 28, 2016, Brandon's disability support
coordinator with the Florida Agency for Persons with
Disabilities, Sujay Rodriguez (“Mr. Rodriguez”),
went to Coral Gate as a representative of both Brandon and
the Florida Department of Children and Families
(“DCF”) to request a reasonable accommodation due
to Brandon's disabilities. Id. at ¶ 31. Mr.
Rodriguez informed Defendant's property manager that they
were working on getting Brandon therapy to correct his
behavior. Id. In response, Defendant's property
manager denied that Brandon's behavior in the laundry
room had anything to do with his disabilities and stated that
she was “scared he would rape or molest someone in the
December 30, 2016, ten days after the incident in the laundry
room, Defendant issued a formal notice evicting Plaintiff and
Brandon because Brandon “took apart a piece of one of
the washing machines . . . and practiced inappropriate
behavior while in the laundry room.” Id. at
¶ 33. Plaintiff alleges that she was forced to move into
a more expensive apartment and ultimately had to place
Brandon in a group home.
November 27, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (“the
Complaint”) against Defendant setting forth claims
under the FHA for (1) Disparate Treatment-Denying or Making a
Dwelling Unavailable in Violation of 42 U.S.C. §
3604(f)(1) and (2) Failure to Reasonably Accommodate in
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3). [ECF No. 1].
Defendant has moved to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff fails
to state a claim because there was no discriminatory animus
involved in the decision to evict Plaintiff and because
Brandon's behavior was a direct threat to other
residents. [ECF No.9 at ¶ 4].