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Tag: federal court

Judge allows sorority sister to keep the dog that helps her with panic attacks

entine-and-coryA judge has decided that a dog who helps a sorority sister get through anxiety attacks can remain in the Chi Omega house at Ohio State University — at least for now.

U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley on Friday granted a preliminary injunction to prohibit the university from banning the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Cory, from the house on the grounds that the dog was creating health problems for another sorority member.

The preliminary injunction will stay in effect until the case goes to trial, at a yet to be determined date, according to the Columbus Dispatch

Sorority vice president Madeleine Entine petitioned the court after being informed that Cory had to leave the house because he aggravated another sorority sister’s allergies and triggered her Crohn’s disease.

Given that, in the university’s view, both students were protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the university based the decision on the fact that the other student, Carly Goldman, had reserved her room in the sorority house first.

The judge, in granting the injunction, said that while Entine’s attorneys presented evidence that she had ADA protection, Goldman’s attorneys had not.

The judge said the university “did not even establish that it was Cory who aggravated the symptoms of Goldman’s disability.”

“Under clearly established law, Entine and Cory prevail,” Marbley wrote in a 21-page opinion.

Entine, a second-year undergraduate at Ohio State, has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has panic attacks that leave her gasping for air and at times immobile.

Goldman says she is allergic to the dog and that those allergies aggravate her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment. Attempts to sequester the dog brought her no relief.

“This case is about a thorny and largely unmapped legal issue: how the University should reconcile the needs of two disabled students whose reasonable accommodations are (allegedly) fundamentally at odds,” Marbley wrote.

While he said he sympathized with Goldman’s condition, he wrote, “While the Court does not intend to minimize the difficulty Goldman faces by living with Crohn’s disease, allergies and asthma, she has simply not established that it is Cory’s presence that causes her harm.”

Dueling disabilities at Chi Omega

541878_521680384529713_204742216_nA dog that helps a sorority sister at Ohio State University through debilitating panic attacks is causing another sister debilitating allergy attacks.

Apparently unable to work it out between themselves, or put it to a vote among the sisters, the matter of who must exit the Chi Omega house is now in the hands of a federal judge.

Madeline Entine, a second-year undergrad, obtained a temporary restraining order Oct. 26 against the university after it decided that Cory, Entine’s assistance animal, needed to move out of the Chi Omega sorority house.

A federal judge heard arguments in the case last week and said he would decide this week whether to issue a permanent injunction against Ohio State, allowing Entine and her 8-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel to stay at the sorority house.

Entine sued under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

But, as the university sees it, that act applies to Chi Omega sister Carly Goldman, as well.

Goldman says she is allergic to the dog and that those allergies aggravate her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment.

Goldman said that when she returned to the sorority house in August, her allergies flared, leading to digestive issues.

Entine says she suffers from panic attacks severe enough to restrict her breathing, cause her to hyperventilate and render her immobile.

Her dog Cory is trained to react to her condition by climbing onto her torso.

Although the dog isn’t allowed on the second floor, where Goldman stays, his hair or dander can still end up there, Goldman testified in a hearing on Entine’s request for a permanent injunction.

Cory rested in Entine’s lap while she watched Goldman’s testimony last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

L. Scott Lissner, the university’s ADA coordinator, said the university decided that, since both students are protected by the act, Goldman should be given priority because she signed up for her room first.

He said the university offered to move Entine and Cory to other university housing, but she declined.

Entine is a Chi Omega chapter vice president, which requires her to live in the house, she says.

U.S District Judge Algenon L. Marbley is expected to rule on Entine’s injunction request this week.

(Photo: Entine and Cory, from Madeline Entine’s Facebook page)

School district settles lawsuit over banning autistic student’s service dog

The fight between a Florida school district and a student with autism who wanted to bring his service dog to class is over — with no real resolution.

The Collier County School Board approved a settlement last week that will pay William and Brenda Hughes $125,000 to settle a lawsuit brought forward on behalf of their son, Derek.

The suit alleged that the district violated the Individuals With Disabilities Act, the American Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In return for the Hughes dropping the complaint, and agreeing not to enroll their son in Collier County’s schools again, the district forked over the money and admitted no wrongdoing.

Hughes and his wife pulled their autistic son, Derek, from Collier public schools several years ago. He now attends school in Chester County, Pennsylvania, according to NaplesNews.com

The family had argued that the school district was negligent by not allowing the Pine Ridge Middle School student to bring his service dog to school.

Justice: Lawyer fined for snubbing service dog

justiceA Colorado Springs attorney accused of not allowing a disabled woman and her service dog into his office because he feared his new carpet might be soiled will pay $50,000 as part of a consent decree approved by a federal court today.

A November 2009 complaint accused Patric LeHouillier of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by barring Joan Murnane, a veterinarian with brain and other injuries that affect her balance, from entering his  law office because her service dog was with her.

The complaint says LeHouillier and his firm, LeHouillier & Associates, expressed concern that the Australian shepherd might soil its new carpet, according to a report in Westword.

That decision, under the consent decree, will cost him $50,000 —  $30,000 for Murnane, $10,000 for her husband and another $10,000 for a civil penalty.

“For almost two decades, the ADA has ensured that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full and equal access to public accommodations, both large and small,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is unrelenting in [eradicating] discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring that owners and operators of public accommodations recognize their obligations to provide equal access.”

The consent decree was approved by Judge Marcia S. Krieger in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Under its terms, LeHouillier and his firm will be required to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and post the policy in a conspicuous location, post a “Service Animals Welcome” sign, and provide training to staff.

The press release noted that a service animal is any animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability — and that the classification is not limited to dogs that assist the blind.

It includes, the press release says, dogs who alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, warn persons about impending seizures or other medical conditions, perform tasks for persons with psychiatric disabilities and provide physical supports for individuals with mobility issues.

More information about the ADA, including how to file an ADA complaint with the Justice Department, is available on the ADA home page at www.ada.gov.

The Justice Department also has a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

(Photo: Cafepress.com)

Chihuahua brouhaha: Was movie idea stolen?

beverly-hills-chihuahuaA Houston-area kennel worker claims the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was, basically, his idea, and that the Walt Disney Company stole it from him.

Zenon Yracheta has sued the entertainment giant in federal court, saying the similarities between the movie and a story he wrote called “The 3 Chihuahuas” are many — and that he spoke with Disney officials about his idea in 2006.

Disney has asked a  federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the movie, which was released last year and grossed $130 million, bears little resemblance to Yracheta’s script, according to the Houston Chronicle.

While both stories feature hero dogs, villain dogs, talking dogs, traveling dogs and chase scenes, they have vastly different premises, Disney says.

In Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” a pampered California Chihuahua is taken by its owner’s niece to Mexico, gets lost, nearly winds up in a dog-fighting ring but escapes and is chased by a mean fight master, a sidekick and his nasty dog before finding her roots, romance, and her way back home.

In “The 3 Chihuahuas,” three Chihuahuas escape from their jobs as acrobats in a South Texas circus and head to Hollywood while pursued by their mean ringmaster, a sidekick and his nasty dog. As with the movie, the Chihuahuas have different ethnic personas. In the end they are rescued by a kind woman who turns out to be Beyoncé Knowles’ aunt. The three dogs eventually wind up living in a California mansion with the singer.

Yracheta said he was enraged when he saw the movie last year, jotting down the similarities between the film and his story.

Yracheta said he got the idea for “The 3 Chihuahuas” after three Chihuahuas ran in front of his car in a rural town near Houston. He worked up a three-page story, then commissioned a screenwriter to write the screenplay.

Disney denies the screenwriters saw or were told about his work.

Romero pleads not guilty in dragging death

Steven Clay Romero — accused in dragging a dog named Buddy to his death at Colorado National Monument– pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges in federal court Wednesday.

His sister, 32-year-old Melissa Lockhart, failed to appear at her hearing, and a warrant for her arrest was issued.

Romero is accused of dragging the dog for three miles behind his pick-up truck last month. Lockhart, who allegedly stole the dog from a couple in Delta, reportedly told Romero to get rid of Buddy after he mauled a family cat. She is also charged with animal cruelty.

In court yesterday, Romero’s attorney asked for more time to review the case. He told the judge he has received more than 930 pages of discovery evidence including numerous CD’s and DVD’s, according to KJCT in Grand Junction.

Before the hearing, supporters of Buddy delivered to the U.S. District Attorney petitions with more than 100,000 signatures the suspects receive the maximum sentence if convicted.

(For our previous posts on Buddy, click here.)

Sister of alleged dog dragger arrested

The sister of the man accused of torturing and killing Buddy, a German shepherd who was dragged for miles behind a pick-up truck, now faces charges of stealing the dog the day before it died.

The sister, Melissa Lockhart, 32, told police she took the dog and another one because she thought they had been abandoned, the Denver Post reports.

Lockart, of Fruita, faces felony theft charges. Her brother, Steven Clay Romero, faces animal cruelty charges after Buddy was found dead Dec. 30 at Colorado National Monument with a rope around his neck.

Investigators say the dog was dragged about two miles before it died.

Police say Buddy and another dog were taken Dec. 29 from the bed of a truck in downtown Delta. A witness wrote down Lockhart’s license plate number. 

In federal court Monday, Romero told U.S. Magistrate Judge Laird Milburn that he has been harassed in jail by other inmates since his arrest Thursday. Romero is being held without bond in the Mesa County Jail and has been appointed a public defender.

Lockhart, who surrendered to police Saturday, was released on a $5,000 bond.

An online petition demanding the maximum three-year penalty be imposed on Romero if convicted has gathered nearly 16,000 signatures.