Condo Association Told Boy To Use Back Door Only, Suit
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 18, 2004
GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS--Nine-year-old Jaime Trujillo and his parents are suing a condominium association in this north Chicago suburb, claiming it discriminates against the boy by keeping him from bringing his wheelchair through the building's front doors.
Claudio and Luz Trujillo, along with their son, filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court against the Triumvera Tower Condominium Association. The suit accuses the association's Board of Directors and Board President of violating Jaime's rights under 1998 amendments to the federal Fair Housing Act.
According to a statement from Access Living, which is providing legal representation for the Trujillos, the family was told before they moved into the condominium last September, that condo policy does not allow furniture, strollers or wheelchairs to enter through the front entrance because they might damage the doors. The Trujillos said that they did not openly protest the rule at first for fear of being denied a home.
The statement explained that the family tried to follow the policy, which directed them to use a rear entrance, until they found the route was barely wide enough for Jaime's wheelchair. The statement also noted that the family objected to the fact that their son was being sent to the back entrance because of his disabilities, and compared their situation to pre-Civil Rights era policies that required African Americans to sit at the back of buses.
The Trujillos claim they decided to use the front entrance, with the hopes that board members and other residents would see that Jaime's wheelchair does not cause damage to doors. This was met, however, with a letter from the association directing them again to use the rear entrance. On another occasion, the Board president allegedly ordered a building maintenance worker to physically block the front door to keep Jaime and his nurse from entering, then threatened to fine the Trujillos $50 each time the boy came through the front entrance.
"My son is not a piece of furniture. He is a human," Claudio Trujillo told the Chicago Tribune. "He is entitled to every right."
"I have never felt so discriminated," Mr. Trujillo said. "You cannot imagine the feeling inside ourselves, especially since it's our son. He is our precious treasure."
The suit seeks a change in the policy, along with unspecified monetary damages for the family's pain, suffering and humiliation.