Case Notes in


First published: Feb 2012
Riverbay Corp. v. New York City Commission

Our experience has been that the courts have been somewhat inconsistent in determining what constitutes a reasonable accommodation and, more to the point, who gets to determine what is “reasonable” – the person requesting the accommodation or the building owner. The court here adopted the commission’s determination that, in a circumstance where material differences were found between gaining access through the front door and the side door and where the resident objected to access through the side door, it was improper for the cooperative corporation to fail to modify the front door. We are inclined to believe that, although it is only briefly mentioned in the decision, the statement made by Riverbay’s architect that access could have been obtained through the front entrance was an important factor in the commission’s decision to reject the administrative law judge’s recommendation and hold that Riverbay failed to provide a reasonable accommodation. We have found that courts often give weight to the opinions of a board’s professional, and further, that boards are often protected – both in the context of reasonable accommodation matters and claims of breach of fiduciary duty – when they act in accordance with the findings of their experts. Here, it appears as if Riverbay’s architect stated that access could be available through the front entrance at a cost of approximately $20,000, yet Riverbay elected to provide side-door access notwithstanding Rose’s objection. While case law is not entirely clear when it comes to reasonable accommodation requests, we do believe that a cooperative or condominium must consider the specific request of the resident and the advice of the building’s expert when making its determination concerning a reasonable accommodation.

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First published: Jan 2006
Inwood Park Apartments Inc. vs. Coinmach Industries Co.

The trial court decision discussed above was recently upheld by an appellate court which reasoned that the right of first refusal did not save the right upon which Coinmach relied, since that right under the subject lease, if not exercised by Coinmach before the lease’s expiration, could be exercised indefinitely thereafter and without limitation as to the time within which the exercise was accomplished. Permitting Coinmach a temporally unrestricted right would constitute an unreasonable restraint upon the alienation of property. The appellate court perceived no beneficial purpose to be served by effectively requiring the residential co-op to retain Coinmach’s laundry room services indefinitely, regardless of their quality.

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First published: Sep 2002
Dorsey v. Hawthorne Garden Owners Corp.

Contrary to popular belief, neither an existing co-op nor a condo is required to incur unreasonable expenditures to make its building handicapped-accessible. Case law reveals that accommodations for handicapped persons are not required if they impose undue financial burdens or require fundamental alterations. Of course, newly constructed buildings are required to provide handicapped accessible facilities since such facilities can easily be accommodated within a new construction budget.

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