Defending what seemed to be a flawed allegation.Monday, August 21st, 2023
Over two mid-July days, Williams Kastner ( www.williamskastner.com ) attorneys presented Redside’s defense to a City appointed Hearing Examiner of its handling of secondary smoke inhalation in September and October 2020. The suit was filed against Redside by the City of Seattle and its Seattle Office for Civil Rights (“SCOR”) on behalf of a former resident. We learned of the Hearing Examiner’s decision late last week.
Effects of secondary smoke inhalation, whether it is cigarette, marijuana or another type of smoke can cause asthma, creating a disability as defined by the ADA and the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The former resident (“Charging Party”, as defined in the suit) and their City appointed and funded legal team argued that Redside didn’t provide “reasonable accommodations” in allowing the Charging Party to break its lease and leave the apartment. In addition, SOCR, on behalf of the Charging Party, wanted monetary compensation for the hardship the Charging Party incurred in reletting a different apartment after breaking their lease.
Thankfully, our attorneys did a great job showing that the ADA’s fundamental purpose is helping enable “equal opportunity” to disabled individuals—so they have the right and equal opportunity to use and enjoy any dwelling. As written in the case’s “Findings and Decision”, “CH 14.08 SMC is not designed to expand contract rights for a class of individuals over another, but to provide equal opportunity. Extending lease termination rights which other tenants lack, risks extending a preference to handicapped residents as opposed affording them equal opportunity….”.
Moreover, the Hearing Examiner ruled that Redside’s efforts to find any sources of secondary smoke were reasonable and as importantly, that SOCR’s other requested damages including a civil penalty, an apology, a written agreement, and attorney’s fees, were all denied.
We are REALLY thankful and grateful for the efforts and arguments put forth by our Williams Kastner attorneys, and for the Hearing Examiner’s complete judgement in our favor. Upon learning of the case early in 2021, we had little understanding of the allegations or the penalties and, until Williams Kastner said: “no, the SCOR is overreaching and not following the law in understanding the application of ADA law”, we only knew we had tried to act reasonably and needed their help in pushing back on what the Hearing Examiner ruled to be erroneous charges.