On Monday, August 7, 2017, the 11th District Court of Appeals in the State of Ohio unanimously issued a written decision wherein they reversed the earlier decisions affirming the finding by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission that a landlord named Helen Grybosky had committed housing discrimination. This case has gone on for nine years.
Briefly summarized, an administrative law judge working for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission found that Helen Grybosky and her son Gary had discriminated regarding households with children and people with disabilities in violation of portions of the Ohio Revised Code. In a full hearing before the Civil Rights Commission, the Commission adopted the administrative law judge liability report but significantly reduced the damages recommended. The Gryboskys appealed to the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, and the trial court modified the Civil Rights Commission decision in part and affirmed it in part. The trial court dismissed the Commission decision against Gary entirely, and it found that Helen had not discriminated with regard to people with disabilities.
The Court of Appeals then ruled earlier this week that the trial court had committed error in failing to dismiss all charges against the landlord, Helen Grybosky, because the charging documents were defective in that they were not filed under oath as required by Ohio law. That requirement was a jurisdictional prerequisite.
In a very well-written statement, the Court of appeals said, “We reverse the trial court’s decision to the extent it affirmed the Commission’s decision and dismiss the Commission’s discrimination determination against Helen in its entirety.” This is significant because if you read the underlying trial court decision written by a judge whom I highly respect, you will see that the trial court laid out an excellent legal and factual analysis regarding the allegations as to discrimination against people with disabilities, specifically as it relates to the need for a comfort or assistance animal and a person claiming to suffer from anxiety. As I read the appellate court decision, I believe it leaves undisturbed the excellent analysis by the trial court on that issue. That decision guides landlords as to how to comply with the law.
I could go on and on, and I will in a longer article that will be distributed in a NREIA-related publication, but I want to share some links with you if you would like to read more about this case:
The first decision includes a detailed spelling out of the facts resulting in the accusations against the Gryboskys by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and her attempts to fight against them and the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
You can click on the link below to see a copy of the trial court decision with its excellent analysis regarding comfort animals and potential rental applicants claiming to suffer from anxiety.