Trujillo Complaint

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION

JAIME TRUJILLO, a minor, )
by and through his parents and next friends, )
Claudio and Luz Trujillo, CLAUDIO )
TRUJILLO, and LUZ TRUJILLO, )

v.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE )
TRIUMVERA TOWER CONDOMINIUM )
ASSOCIATION and )
SARAH STOLLBERG, as President of the )
Governing Board of the Triumvera Tower )
Condominium Association, )

COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT

1. In this case, a condominium association has inexplicably prohibited a nine-year old boy with physical and developmental disabilities from entering his parents’ apartment building through the front door, simply because he uses a wheelchair. The association has demanded the boy use the rear service entrance, otherwise reserved for furniture delivery and garbage disposal. It has threatened to fine the boy’s parents for disobeying this edict and even to have its employees physically block the front doorway to prevent the boy from entering. To remedy this blatant discrimination, plaintiffs bring this action seeking immediate declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages.

II.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action under 28
U.S.C. § 1331 and 42 U.S.C. § 3613(a). Plaintiffs’ claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are authorized under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02.
3.
Venue is proper in the Northern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. §
1391(b) because Defendants reside there and because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to Plaintiffs’ claims arose there.

III.
PARTIES
4. Plaintiff JAIME TRUJILLO, age nine, has severe physical and
developmental disabilities as a result of a seizure disorder that arose shortly after his birth. He brings this action through his parents and next friends, Claudio and Luz Trujillo.
5.
Plaintiffs CLAUDIO and LUZ TRUJILLO are the parents of Jaime
Trujillo. They own a two-bedroom condominium unit in Triumvera Tower, located at 3925 Triumvera Drive in Glenview, Illinois, where they and Jaime reside.
6.
Defendant BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE TRIUMVERA TOWER
CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION is the governing board of the Triumvera Tower Codnominium Association, an Illinois corporation established under the Illinois Condominium Property Act, 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 605. Its principle place of business is in Glenview, Illinois. Consistent with Illinois law, 765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 605/18.3, the Association is responsible for the overall administration of the apartment building, including all common areas, at 3925 Triumvera Drive.
7.
Defendant SARAH STOLLBERG is and has been at all times relevant to
this action the President of the Board of Directors of the Triumvera Tower Condominium Association.

IV.
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
8. Jaime Trujillo, who will turn ten this April, had severe seizures at birth
that rendered him physically and developmentally disabled. He continues to have severe seizures. He cannot walk and uses a wheelchair at all times. He is unable to speak. He requires assistance and supervision at all times. He has a sister, age four, who is not disabled.
9.
Claudio and Luz Trujillo came to the United States from Colombia seven
years ago to escape political repression and violence from paramilitary groups. They were trained as lawyers in Colombia. Currently, Mr. Trujillo works as a front desk clerk at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Chicago and Ms. Trujillo as a family support worker with Shelter, Inc., a social services agency in Arlington Heights.
10.
At one time, parents such as Mr. & Ms. Trujillo had no choice but to
place their children in institutions. Today, however, special education and supportive services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1487, allow children with severe disabilities to live at home with their parents. Jaime Trujillo lives at home and attends elementary school in Glenview. Under IDEA, Jaime is eligible for and receives special education services, including a registered nurse who works with Jaime during the school day and accompanies him to and from school.
11.
In the summer of 2003, Mr. & Ms. Trujillo, who had been renting an
apartment in Des Plaines, decided to purchase a two-bedroom condominium unit for sale at 3925 Triumvera Drive. To be approved as residents, Mr. & Mrs. Trujillo had to submit to an interview by the governing board of the Triumvera Tower Condominium Association. Mr. Trujillo was interviewed during in August 2003.
12.
During the interview, Sarah Stollberg, the Association’s President, told
Mr. Trujillo that his children may not run around the building unattended. Mr. Trujillo replied that this would not be a problem as he closely watched his children and, in any event, his son used a wheelchair and could not run or move on his own.
13.
Ms. Stollberg replied that his son’s wheelchair was a “problem.” She told
Mr. Trujillo his son was prohibited from using the front door and must use the rear service entrance, on grounds that the wheelchair would damage the front entrance.
14.
Mr. Trujillo believed this requirement was unnecessary, unfair and
possibly discriminatory. He knew his son’s wheelchair would not cause any property damage. However, he and his wife loved the apartment and he feared that if he objected, the association would prevent him from purchasing the apartment.
15.
The Trujillo’s moved in in September 2003. At first, Mr. Trujillo
attempted to use the rear entrance with Jaime but found it problematic. The door opening was barely wide enough for his son’s wheelchair. Mr. Trujillo and Jaime were forced to wait for Jaime’s school bus near the garbage disposal. More importantly, however, Mr. Trujillo was hurt and angered that his son had to use the back entrance solely because he was disabled, while all other residents could use the front entrance.
16.
Mr. Trujillo decided that Jaime would use the front entrance. Despite Ms.
Stollberg’s order, Mr. Trujillo believed that once the Association’s board members saw that Jaime’s wheelchair did not, in fact, cause damage to the front entrance, the Board would conclude the prohibition was pointless and either rescind or decline to enforce it.
17.
For several months, Jaime used the front door without incident or
objection. At no time did his wheelchair cause damage to the property.
18.
On February 5, 2004, however, Mr. Trujillo received a letter from the
Association stating, in full, as follows:
It has been noted that you are bringing your son with his wheelchair through the front door. This is prohibited. Please use the rear entrance. Thank you for your cooperation. – Tower Board of Directors

19.
Mr. Trujillo was working at a nearby Target store at the time and
happened to see the Association vice-president there. Mr. Trujillo complained to her about the February 5 letter, stating he was upset and hurt by the Association’s insistence that his son use the back door. The vice-president replied that she was sorry Mr. Trujillo felt this way but that he had to abide by the Association’s rules.
20.
On March 4, 2004, at approximately 8:00 A.M., Jaime was waiting in the
building lobby for his school bus with Margie Boyle, a nurse assigned by the Northern Suburban Special Education District to work with Jaime at school. Ms. Stollberg came downstairs, saw Jaime and told Ms. Boyle that Jaime could not use the front entrance.
21.
When Ms. Boyle objected, Ms. Stollberg became angry and hostile. She
raised her voice and threatened to fine the Trujillo’s $50.00 each time Jaime used the front door. She also said she would order the building’s maintenance man to block the front door to prevent Jaime from using it.
22.
Ms. Stollberg then went outside the front door and had a conversation with
the maintenance man. The maintenance man then approached Ms. Boyle and confirmed Ms. Stollberg had ordered him to block the front door if Jaime tried to use it again.
23.
Ms. Boyle was surprised and taken aback by Ms. Stollberg’s tone. She
immediately telephoned Mrs. Trujillo at work and told her about Ms. Stollberg’s threats to the family made in front of her son. Mrs. Trujillo was extremely upset and immediately drove home to be with Jaime. By the time Mrs. Trujillo arrived, Ms. Stollberg had left the building lobby.
24.
That evening, at around 7 P.M., Ms. Stollberg knocked on the Trujillo’s
front door and informed Ms. Trujillo again that Jaime could not use the building’s front door. Waving a booklet she claimed contained the Association’s rules, Ms. Stollberg said that the Association has determined that furniture, strollers and wheelchairs must use the rear service entrance.

V.
CAUSE OF ACTION
Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)

25. Plaintiffs re-allege and incorporate Paragraphs 1-24 as if fully set forth
herein.
26.
The Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2), forbids
providers of housing, including condominium associations, from discriminating “against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap of – (A) that person; or (B) a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made available.”
27.
Jaime Trujillo is a “handicapped person” within the meaning of the Act.
See 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
28.
Jaime Trujillo resides in 3925 Triumvera Drive and intended to reside
there at the time Defendants interviewed Claudio Trujillo for residency. At all times relevant to this action, Defendants have had actual or constructive knowledge of Jaime’s disabilities and his actual or intended residency at 3925 Triumvera Drive.
29.
Defendants have prevented Jaime Trujillo from using the front entrance of
3925 Triumvera Drive because of his physical disabilities. Defendants do not similarly prevent non-disabled, ambulatory persons from using the front entrance.
30.
As such, Defendants have imposed different terms, conditions and
privileges on Plaintiffs based on disability, both in the sale of Plaintiffs’ unit as well as in the provision of services or facilities in connection with Plaintiffs’ unit.
31.
At all times relevant to this action, Defendants have acted intentionally,
willfully, and/or in reckless disregard of the rights of Plaintiffs.

VI.
IRREPARABLE HARM
32. By virtue of Defendant’s illegal acts and omissions, Plaintiffs have
suffered and continue to suffer irreparable injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law, thus justifying the imposition of injunctive relief.

VII.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request the following relief:
A.
Declare that Defendants’ acts and omissions constitute illegal
discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2);
B.
Preliminarily and, after full hearing, permanently enjoin Defendants from
taking any action to prohibit Plaintiff Jaime Trujillo from using the front entrance at 3925 Triumvera Drive;
C.
Award Plaintiffs their actual damages, including compensation for pain,
suffering and humiliation;
D.
Award Plaintiffs punitive damages as a result of Defendants’ willful,
malicious or reckless conduct;
E.
Award Plaintiffs their reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs; and
F.
Grant any other relief the Court deems appropriate.

VIII.
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff requests a trial by jury.

Dated March 15, 2004. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,

One of the Attorneys for Plaintiff
MAX LAPERTOSA
KENNETH M. WALDEN
ACCESS LIVING
614 West Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel: (312) 253-7000/Fax (312) 253-7001