Two disabled people sue Plantation condo association for better access

Article Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel

By Jeremy Milarsky
Posted March 11, 2005

Saying they are unable to properly use the parking lot, bathrooms and water fountains in their community's clubhouse, two disabled people in Plantation have sued their condominium association in federal court.

John Garon and Vatrice Rivera, who use wheelchairs, sued the Lauderdale West Community Association No. 1 on March 4. The association was served with the lawsuit Monday.

The plaintiffs have accused association members of ignoring their requests to make the clubhouse more accessible for disabled people. Because the clubhouse, in Central Plantation on Lauderdale West Drive, is open to the public for political debates and some entertainment, the building must comply with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, the lawsuit says.

The act compels owners of public buildings to make sure people who use wheelchairs, walkers or canes can get around their property. About 2,000 people live in Lauderdale West.

"I've been living here a year, and I can't get around my own clubhouse," said Garon, a quadriplegic.

Arline Marcus, the association's registered agent, said she had not yet read the lawsuit and declined to comment on it. She said her association's board of directors is in the process of hiring a new attorney.

"We just got served," she said. "We haven't even had a chance to read through the complaint."

According to the lawsuit, Garon and Rivera have accused the association of failing to make sure someone in a wheelchair can use the parking spaces in front of the clubhouse. The spaces for disabled drivers are smaller than 12 feet wide, the width required by federal law, the suit said.

Another alleged problem is the bathrooms, where a lack of clear floor space makes it impossible to roll a wheelchair through them, according to the lawsuit.