A Lynn woman is filing a discrimination lawsuit against her condo complex for forcing her to get rid of her emotional support dog, or get out.
Since 2014, Lynn nurse Cheryl Hardnett has been fighting the Oceanview Condo Board to keep her emotional support dog Milo in her rented unit. She says Milo allows her to cope with the symptoms of severe depression.
"I had a problem where I was really depressed and not functioning and I can get up. I can go to work. I can go see my therapist. I take my meds. I have my support dog. I'm social again," said Hardnett.
Last October, Boston 25 News reported a judge ordered Hardnett's landlord Pam Walsh to pay more than $40,000 in fees after ruling against her claim. Walsh has even appealed to Governor Charlie Baker's Officer, but Hardnett is going one step further. She's filing her own claim against Oceanview claiming they are violating her civil rights under the state Fair Housing Act.
"There was a diagnosis of a disability. These are intentional violations of her constitutional rights," said Boston dog lawyer Jeremy Cohen.
Unlike places like restaurants or department stores, laws around emotional support animals is clear. If you have a doctor's note, your pet is allowed.
Under the statute, a property owner has to modify their pet policy for a person with a disability who requires an emotional support animal, or ESA.
But according to condo board attorney Carl Goodman, Cheryl isn't handicapped.
"Very few people are so depressed that they are rendered handicapped," said Goodman.
Goodman tells Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes that Hardnett and her landlord didn't go through the proper procedures to get Milo; something Cheryl and Cohen dispute.
"She has everything that you need. A doctor's note. Several. I've seen a half dozen notes in the last two-and-a-half years," said Cohen.
"From our perspective, this is a case that is no different than the person who knowingly is not handicapped and parks in a handicapped space," said Goodman.
Walsh is appealing the original court decision, while Hardnett's case is waiting to go before a judge.
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