Coop lawsuits: a no-pets eviction case in federal court

The Times gave a lot of column inches to this story about a huge co-op, rules about pets and a lawsuit over the co-op’s rules about pets:

Outside the brick behemoths of the East River Housing co-op on the Lower East Side is an inscription quoting Sidney Hillman, the labor leader who helped build these affordable homes for thousands of garment workers and others:

“We want to have an America that will have no sense of insecurity and make it possible for all groups, regardless of race, creed or color, to live in friendship, to be real neighbors.”

Just so long as those neighbors do not have any pets. For the past 84 years, the board and managers of the sprawling 1,627-apartment property have maintained a fairly strict no-pets policy.

America, or rather the federal government, wants to change that.

For the past two years, the board has sought to evict the dogs of three residents, or their owners should they refuse to comply. All three residents have claimed medical necessity in having pets: that the animals help stabilize depression, anxiety and other afflictions, an increasingly common practice in the city. But because the East River Housing residents sought exemptions only after the building found out about the dogs, the board maintains their doctors’ notes and therapeutic claims are a ruse.

I have mixed feelings about this lawsuit which does delineate the power of co-op boards, and how that power is applied or misused. I’m interested in what seems like a creative move by the plaintiffs’ lawyers, taking the case right out of New York state courts and bringing it to the huge federal agency, Department of Housing, on a discrimination basis.

One of my (mixed) feelings: this co-op lawsuit is a lot simpler than mine. Another (mixed) feeling: I love the reference to Sidney Hillman and the quote.

Here’s the whole story: Fighting a No-Pets Eviction With Doctors’ Notes and a Federal Suit –

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