Federal lawsuit against Andover Forest Neighborhood Association dismissed
Attorneys have agreed to dismiss a two-year old federal lawsuit filed against a Lexington neighborhood association, alleging it discriminated and retaliated against a family who built a therapeutic playhouse for their son who has cerebral palsy.
The federal lawsuit, which was filed in December 2014 by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights division, alleged that the Andover Forest Homeowners Association and EMG Management Services violated the federal Fair Housing Act when they failed to make reasonable accommodations for Dr. George and Tiffiney Veloudis and their toddler son.
A joint order to dismiss, which was filed Monday, says the parties "determined that the evidence does not support the United States’ claims."
Nathan Billings, a lawyer for the Andover Forest Homeowners Association, said the lawsuit was dismissed after they discovered "that multiple medical documents that had been used to support the Veloudises’ request for an accommodation were not authentic."
The dispute with the Veloudises arose in Arpil 2011 when Dr. George and Tiffiney Veloudis installed a $5,000 enclosed playhouse for son Cooper at their then-home in the Andover Forest subdivision. The association took issue with the large playhouse — a 12-foot by 8-foot enclosed structure — because it was prohibited by restrictions on the deeds of Andover Forest homeowners.
The Veloudis family said they bought the playhouse and didn't think that the playhouse was any different than the large tree houses and swing sets already in the neighborhood. However, the homeowner's association said it was similar to a large garden shed and cited the family.
The fight grabbed national headlines and fueled heated arguments on social media.
In May 2012, the homeowners association granted an accommodation to the Veloudises allowing the structure to remain on their property based upon medical records that the Veloudises produced that April -- after the Association requested verification that the structure was actually used in connection with their disabled son’s therapy or treatment.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) issued a “Charge of Discrimination” on Nov. 14, 2014, even though the home owners association gave the Veloudises that accommodation —and the family had since moved to a new house outside the neighborhood.
Among other things, the lawsuit filed that December asked a federal judge to enjoin the Andover Forest Homeowners Association and EMG from discriminating against someone because of a disability. The lawsuit also asked for monetary damages.
Attorneys with Andover Forest had denied that it violated the Fair Housing Act. The company, which managed more than 7,000 homes in homeowner associations in Fayette and surrounding counties, only issued violations and was not aware of personal situations.
"After the Department of Justice’s own internal investigation, the government advised attorneys for the Association and EMG that documents purportedly from three separate medical providers that the Veloudises, through their attorney, had provided to the Association were 'not authentic,' a release from Billings said.