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Condo | HOA Lawyers

Just Because a Resident Has a Disability, an Accommodation May Not Be Reasonable

Facts

The parties to this suit both reside in a condominium association.  Each party owns a unit, and each has parking spaces.  The dispute is over the fact that when the Grudziecki parks their car in their parking spot, even within the lines, it is difficult, if not impossible, to access the ramp to the garage entrance and elevator area from the left side.  As a practical matter, unit owners who wish to access the elevator area must walk to the right side of the ramp when Grudziecki is parked there.  The Greenbergs, whose parking spaces are directly across from Grudziecki’s spot, wanted the court to order that that Grudziecki pull the car forward or move farther toward the left side of the parking space so that they could enter the elevator area from the left side, instead of being “forced to walk around the right side of the ramp, which is farther away from their parking spaces.”  Mrs. Greenberg is disabled and requires the use of a walker and entering from the left would save Mrs. Greenberg a few steps.  When the matter could not be resolved, the Greenbergs filed suit.

Suit

On May 24, 2018, the Greenbergs filed a complaint, an amended complaint and finally a second amended complaint against Mr. Grudziecki and the Association.  The four claims in the second amended complaint were: Count I – Preliminary and Permanent Injunction, Count II – Specific Performance, Count III – Breach of Contract, and Count IV – Declaratory Judgment

Trial Court Decision

The trial court granted summary judgment to Grudziecki on all claims finding that Grudziecki had not violated the declaration by parking within their parking spot, and finding that the Greenbergs have not established that Grudziecki or the Association breached their right to access the common areas because access was only realistically possible from the right side of the ramp, since access to the left side “is neither reasonable nor necessary for pedestrian ingress and egress to the garage.”

Appeals Court Decision

The appeals court affirmed the decision of the trial court holding: “the Declaration doesn’t entitle the Greenbergs to access via two entrances to the elevator vestibule.  The right-side entrance is essential for the condominium to comply with the Maryland Accessibility Code, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, and satisfies the requirement that the Association provide reasonable and necessary access.  The Greenbergs (and everyone else) have unencumbered access to the elevator vestibule via the right-side entrance and ramp, and although that entrance requires a slightly longer walk from the Greenbergs’ parking spaces than the left might, the marginal few feet don’t render that access point unreasonable.”  The Appeals Court then ordered the Greenbergs to pay costs.

LESSONS:
  1. After three and half years in court the Greenbergs received nothing, other than likely upset neighbors, over attempting to shorten their walk to the elevator from the parking garage by a “marginal few feet.”
  2. When you buy into any association, make sure you understand and investigate exactly where your unit and parking are located and all of the ingress and egress issues that exist or might exist in the future by someone strictly following the documents, but potentially not following the most courteous approach.
  3. What the documents say tends to control, unless a disabled person, for proper reasons, seeks a reasonable accommodation. Here the Court did not find the request reasonable.

Greenberg v. Grudziecki, 2021 WL 6078738 (Maryland, 2021) UNREPORTED

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