Chartwell Successfully Defends Community Association In ADA/PHRA Action In Case of First Impression



E. Patrick Heffron

E. PATRICK HEFFRON is a partner in Chartwell’s Scranton office. Mr. Heffron is a 2001 magna cum laude graduate of Marywood University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School Of Law in 2004. Prior to joining Chartwell, Mr. Heffron was a Partner in the Scranton office of Cipriani & Werner. While at Cipriani & Werner, Mr. Heffron represented various Fortune...

Jerome A. Flanagan

JEROME A. FLANAGAN is an associate in Chartwell’s Scranton office.  His practice concentrates on the representation of individuals and business entities in general litigation defense. Mr. Flanagan graduated from the University of Scranton in 2000, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree.  He received his Juris Doctor from the Syracuse University College of Law in 2003.  Following law school, Mr. Flanagan  was a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Patricia Corbett of...

The Client:  A residential community association.
 
The Situation:  Plaintiff challenged the community association’s intention to construct a security fence across common area property adjacent to his home, asserting that the fence would deny him access to his home.  Plaintiff alleged the construction of the fence discriminated against him because of his alleged disability in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).  The case presented questions of first impression under the ADA in the Third Circuit and the PHRA in Pennsylvania’s courts.
 
The Chartwell Solution:  Chartwell successfully argued that the ADA and PHRA did not apply to this dispute between a resident and a private homeowner’s association.
 
The Result:  Chartwell  has defeated the plaintiff’s claims at every stage of the litigation to date.  At the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission stage, Chartwell established that there was insufficient evidence to show that the plaintiff was denied a reasonable accommodation based on a disability and insufficient evidence to make a finding of probable cause.  The plaintiff then filed a complaint in state court.  Chartwell removed the case to federal court. Following in depth discovery, the federal court granted Chartwell’s motion for summary judgment with regard to the ADA claim and remanded the case back to state court to decide the PHRA claim.  Upon filing of another motion for summary judgment, the state court found that there was no basis for a claim pursuant to the PHRA and granted summary judgment in the association’s favor.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the judgment on appeal.  The plaintiff has now filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania arguing that the PHRA’s applicability under the circumstances is a matter of first impression.