On September 28, 2012, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered a Consent Decree resolving a lawsuit brought by the United States against The Philadelphian Owners Association ("POA"). The lawsuit alleged that the POA violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to grant persons with disabilities who required an assistance animal a reasonable accommodation from its "no-pets" policy when the person requested such a reasonable accommodation and needed it in order to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his or her home. The POA denied such allegations and did not admit any wrongdoing or liability under the Fair Housing Act. The Consent Decree requires, among other things, that the POA adopt and implement a reasonable accommodation policy which would allow persons who have a disability and need an assistance animal to have one if they meet certain criteria. Under fair housing laws, a person with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who is regarded as having such an impairment, or a person with a record of such an impairment.
The Consent Decree also establishes a Settlement Fund to make payments compensate to potential additional aggrieved persons who believe they should be compensated as a result of this alleged disability discrimination. You may be qualified to recover from the Settlement Fund if you were/are a person with a disability in need of an assistance animal and a resident of or an applicant for residency at The Philadelphian from January 2000 until the present time, you asked The Philadelphian for a reasonable accommodation from its no-pet policy, and were denied the opportunity to have an assistance animal.
Any potential additional aggrieved persons who receive monetary relief from the Settlement Fund must sign a Release in the form of Exhibit C to the Consent Decree which forever discharges any past claims they may allege to have against the POA. Any potential additional aggrieved persons who choose not to participate in the Settlement Fund retain their rights to pursue an individual action against the POA.
For purposes of this settlement, an assistance animal is an animal that does work or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support or other assistance that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person's disability. The most common assistance animals are dogs, although other animals may qualify as assistance animals. Assistance animals are not considered pets.
If you believe you fall into one of these categories, or if you have information about someone else you believe falls into one of these categories, please contact the United States Department of Justice, no later than December 10, 2012, at: 1-800-896-7743 and select menu option 994. You may also write to:
United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
1800 G Street, N.W., Suite 7002
Washington, DC 20006
Attn: DJ# 175-62-395
Your telephone message or letter must include your name, address, and, if possible, at least TWO telephone numbers where you may be reached.>