Litigation: Solodar v. OPC Lake Point Tower
After more than three years, and a jury trial, Mrs. Carollee Solodar will finally receive the parking spot she deserves (and requires)! Carollee and her husband Donald Solodar live in a lanai in North Palm Beach and have been allowed to park in a service area by their home for many years. Following Mrs. Solodar suffering a heart attack, she was upset that she was blocked in and complained to the management. As a result of her complaint, the Board of Governors of the Condominium decided to bar all vehicles from the parking area and insisted that Mrs. Solodar park in the garage down seventeen steps and three times the distance from her home.
Seeing as Mrs. Solodar’s condition was exponentially worsened when she exerted too much energy, such as walking from her allotted parking spot to her front door, she, along with her husband and her doctor, deemed it necessary that she park closer to her destination. The Solodars therefore requested a reasonable accommodation for Mrs. Solodar to be able to park in the service area, as she had always done.
Lake Point Tower Condominium however did not respond positively to the Solodars’ request and instead demanded additional information from her doctors as well as videotaped her doing exercise necessary for her cardiovascular health. The Board could not understand that just because a person did not “look disabled” did not mean that they were not in need of the accommodation.
Disability Independence Group represented the Solodars and as so, presented the argument that Mrs. Solodar has a disability that warrants a reasonable accommodation in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. The Board of Governors attempted to argue that the request was unreasonable and would require the hiring of more staff members to monitor the service area. They also proposed an alternative solution to the problem and suggested that Mrs. Solodar park in a pre-designated accessible parking space over 300 feet away. With staff already in place to monitor the service area, the claim of additional staff was found to hold no merit, and the alternative accommodations were simply not reasonable. After a nine day jury trial, the jury’s verdict was in favor of the Solodars. The verdict stated that Mrs. Solodar is a person with a disability who requested an accommodation which is necessary to afford her the opportunity to equally use and enjoy her dwelling. Since Lake Point Tower did not provide her with the requested accommodation, they were required to do so by the U.S. District Court Judge presiding over the case.
This is an important win for the Solodars for they now have the ability to use and enjoy their home, as well as an important win for all persons with invisible disabilities who require accommodations. Many people who live with significant disabilities do not always display the symptoms of their disability, and are not given reasonable accommodations; an act of discrimination. It was a long road getting Mrs. Solodar her access to her accommodation however the hard work was worth it in the end!