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SPORN v. OCEAN COLONY CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION

October 29, 2001

LEONARD SPORN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OCEAN COLONY CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irenas, District Judge.

    OPINION

Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Ocean Colony Condominium Association, Carol Ramchandani, Charles Haines, Betsy Beaver, Fred Shoyer and Frank Pisaturo. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

I.

Plaintiffs Leonard Sporn ("Mr.Sporn"), Dolores Sporn ("Mrs.Sporn"), Amelia Thomas ("A.Thomas") and Rosemarie Thomas ("R.Thomas") were unit owners at the Ocean Colony Condominium in Ocean City, New Jersey. The dispute out of which this action arose began in January 1998 when Defendant Ocean Colony Condominium Association ("the Association"), through its Board of Trustees, a number of whom are named as defendants in this case, issued a regulation in which an "Adult Lounge", inaccessible to children, was created at Ocean Colony. (Compl. ¶ 15). In response to this regulation, Plaintiffs filed, in January 1999, a petition with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") seeking a ruling on whether the exclusion of children from the adult lounge violated the provisions of the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq. According to Plaintiffs, Defendants allegedly responded to this complaint by engaging in "a campaign to discredit the plaintiffs with other unit owners" and "shunning" and "ostracizing" Plaintiffs. (Compl. at ¶ 17).

In March 2000, Plaintiffs filed the instant action against the Association and several individual members of the Board of Trustees, alleging that the creation of the adult lounge violated the FHA and that Defendants' "retaliatory" actions constituted unlawful interference with the exercise and enjoyment of Plaintiffs' FHA rights. (Compl. ¶¶ 28, 31).

In addition, Plaintiffs assert a number of claims related to the Defendants' treatment of Leonard Sporn. Mr. Sporn suffers from severe spinal stenosis and is confined to a wheelchair. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants failed, in a number of ways, to comply with their obligations under the FHA and New Jersey law to "reasonably accommodate" Mr. Sporn's handicap. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants refused to honor Mr. Sporn's request that he be provided with a handicapped parking space adjacent to a wheelchair-accessible entrance to the Condominium, and failed, in connection with renovations to the Condominium made in 1999, to provide handicapped access to the building and to the common area restrooms. (Compl. ¶¶ 22-26).

Plaintiffs' final claim is that the actions of the Defendants constitute intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

This Court has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1367.

II.

"[S]ummary judgment is proper `if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).

III.

A.

The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., passed as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) of 1988 to protect handicapped persons, provides that it is unlawful "to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services in connection with such a dwelling, because of the handicap of that person. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2). The relevant provisions of the FHA's definition of "discrimination" make unlawful:

(B) A refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal ...

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