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

E. Patrick Heffron

E. PATRICK HEFFRON concentrates his practice in general insurance defense, civil litigation, municipal law, labor/employment law, employment discrimination, motor vehicle litigation, premises liability and dram shop liability. In addition, Mr. Heffron devotes a sizable practice to the defense of employment matters before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and in Pennsylvania's state and federal courts. Mr. Heffron has experience delivering lectures and presentations on industry...

Jerome A. Flanagan

JEROME A. FLANAGAN concentrates his practice on workers’ compensation and general liability defense. Mr. Flanagan provides legal advice and guidance to employers before, during and after litigation on a wide variety of matters, including labor and employment law, premises liability, workers’ compensation, and product liability. His practice covers all of Northern Pennsylvania and includes companies in the transportation, manufacturing and retail industries. Mr. Flanagan helps his clients by working closely with...

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.