Wheelchair User Fights Back: Federal Lawsuit Filed

Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan
(877) 979-FAIR, info@fhcmichigan.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Discrimination Lawsuit Filed:
Wheelchair User Demands Sidewalk Access

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Contact: FHC Executive Director Pam Kisch, (734) 994-3426
Attorney Steve Tomkowiak, (248) 543-1600

If you would like a copy of the Complaint filed in federal court, Philip Cusumano v Hartland Meadows, L.L.C., Case No. 14-13149, please email kcuhran@fhcmichigan.org.

 

New Discrimination Lawsuit Filed:
Wheelchair User Demands Sidewalk Access

Philip Cusumano has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit claiming violations of the federal Fair Housing Act, against the Hartland Meadows mobile home community in Livingston County. Mr. Cusumano is legally blind and uses a wheelchair. He contacted the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan in April to report that Hartland Meadows’ “no parking on sidewalk” rule was not being enforced. This made traveling around the community dangerous and denied him access to common areas, including his mailbox.

Then, in May, Mr. Cusumano reported to Fair Housing Center staff that “the sidewalks were blocked by cars; I couldn’t get around the cars on the sidewalk in my wheelchair, so I had to go on the road, where I was nearly hit by a car.”

This instance is not unusual. Mr. Cusumano and his wife, Vickie Cusumano, have several photographs of cars parked on sidewalks throughout Hartland Meadows. Fair Housing Center staff investigated the property and witnessed numerous cars on sidewalks throughout the property.

Hartland Meadows has a policy that states residents are to not park on the sidewalks and provides three off-street parking spaces per home site. According to the lawsuit, the policy is not enforced.

“Let Philip Cusumano take his grandchildren to the playground without risking his safety,” said Pamela Kisch, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan. “Mr. Cusumano and others who use wheelchairs rely on clear paths available to them at all times.”

The Fair Housing Center sent multiple letters to Hartland Meadows urging the enforcement of the rule that prevents parking on sidewalks. However, when the rule was still not enforced effectively, the Fair Housing Center referred Mr. Cusumano to Cooperating Attorney, Steve Tomkowiak, for litigation. On August 1, 2014, Mr. Tomkowiak filed suit on behalf of Mr. Cusumano in U.S. Federal District Court. The case is assigned to the Honorable Matthew F. Lietman.

A private non-profit organization, the Fair Housing Center opened in 1992 to provide fair housing investigations, advocacy, education, conciliation, and attorney referrals to those who believe they have been the victims of illegal housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Center serves Washtenaw, Ingham, Monroe, Livingston, Jackson, and Lenawee counties.

The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication.  Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

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Photographs: Philip and Vicki Cusumano; page of Hartland Meadow newsletter. High resolution photographs available upon request.

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