Jury sides with couple in disability discrimination lawsuit
WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A jury sided with a Maui couple in a $1.9 million disability discrimination lawsuit against their condo association, which fined them thousands of dollars for uncarpeted floors and attempted to sell their unit in foreclosure.
The Villas at Kenolio Association of Apartment Owners fined the couple $200 a day over a two-year period for floors that Greg White said help him see where he is going, said Eric Ferrer, the lawyer who represented White and his wife Michele.
“It was totally egregious,” he said Wednesday. “It was retaliation.”
The wooden floors in the couple’s unit violated the community’s rules, which require second-floor units to have carpeting to prevent noise from travelling down to units underneath, the condo board said.
The floors help White navigate through the home, the couple said. He is blind in his left eye and visually impaired in his right eye.
The floor’s dark color and the sound it makes when White steps help him know where he is walking, Ferrer said.
The couple explained that to the board, but the board denied their request for an exception.
Ferrer cited an email by Jason Strahn, a former member of the condo board, who argued that White’s vision must “not be that terrible,” since he still walks his dogs, despite the fact that White submitted medical records describing his condition.
The case went to trial in 2nd Circuit Court on July 2.
The jury concluded that White had a disability, and that the couple had asked for a reasonable accommodation from the association.
“We were vindicated 100 percent. It’s a sense of relief that you almost have to pinch yourself that it’s really over,” White said.
The board declined to comment. The association’s attorney could not immediately be reached.