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(March 16, 2017)
ORLANDO, Fla., March 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Morgan & Morgan's Belvin Perry, Jr., and Disability Independence Group's Matthew Dietz announce a groundbreaking $400,000 disability rights settlement with the Orlando Housing Authority that could help improve reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities.
The settlement is among the largest of its kind in the state and requires a shift in how the OHA provides reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
"This case was a classic example of an agency that was designed to help people being the problem and not the solution," Perry said. "This case has led to OHA changing its policies to make sure that citizens get the benefits they are entitled to under the law."
Stephanie Fernandez filed the lawsuit on behalf of her late father Samuel Rosario, whom she had alleged died because the OHA failed to reasonably accommodate Rosario's request for a live-in aide and a transfer to a first-floor apartment. Rosario was legally blind and suffered numerous conditions, including memory loss, seizure disorder, and mobility impairments, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would have provided dollars the OHA could have used to help Rosario.
OHA denied his request for reasonable accommodations following an initial denial of Social Security disability benefits, despite his clear disabilities and a doctor's note attesting to Rosario's condition.
Social Security later revisited their decision and approved Mr. Rosario's benefits request. The family went to OHA and informed them of the approval, but were told they would need to go through the entire process again.
Disabilities make up over 50 percent of all fair housing complaints, including reasonable accommodation or modification denials. Many of these accommodations cost nothing to a provider, yet may mean the difference between living independently and living in an assisted living facility or nursing home, or as this case, the difference between life and death.
Perry, of Morgan & Morgan, and Dietz, of the Disability Independence Group, are pleased to represent Rosario's family in their quest to ensure that a housing provider cannot ignore the needs of their residents with disabilities and that accommodations are essential to independent living.
"The pursuit of justice will sometime require the help of able counsel to make sure that justice happens," Perry said. "Without our help, justice would not have been obtained in the case."
Morgan & Morgan PA is a leading personal injury law firm headquartered in Orlando and is dedicated to protecting the people, not the powerful. It's more than 300 attorneys provide legal services to clients in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Alabama.
The case is Stephanie Fernandez, individually and as personal representation of Samuel Rosario v. The Orlando Housing Authority, Rhonda Pierce, & Ellis Henry
Case No. 6:15-cv-1341-Orl-40DAB filed in The United States District Court, Middle District of Florida
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