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3Mass resident sues developer over accessibility

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A resident of the 3Mass condo development who uses an electric wheelchair is suing the developers for failing to provide handicap accessibility to a rooftop terrace overlooking downtown Indianapolis.

Katrina Gossett had already put down her deposit when she learned that the terrace, offering impressive skyline views, could not be accessed without climbing at least two flights of stairs, the lawsuit says. Gossett agreed to buy the condo in 2008 and moved into her fourth-floor unit in January.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on Sept. 29, asks for Halakar Properties Inc., Keystone Construction Corp. and Schmidt Associates Inc. to bring the building into compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act. All three companies are based in Indianapolis. Gossett also is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees.

An attorney for the developers, J. Thomas Vetne of Jones Obenchain LLP of South Bend, said they are investigating the complaint and preparing a response. An official with Halakar said company policy prohibits comment on pending litigation.

The developers have marketed the terrace as an amenity for the building at 333 Massachusetts Ave. It is maintained by homeowners' association fees that Gossett is required to pay, the suit says.

"Defendants have collectively failed to design and construct public-use areas that are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, which is discriminatory conduct in violation of the Fair Housing Act," says the suit, brought by locally based DeLaney & DeLaney LLC.

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  • Re:Hmmm
    Did you have to go to some sort of seminar to learn how to be both inhumane and inane or does it just come naturally? It's quite a trick.
  • Roll in her wheels!
    What I find most upsetting, is how easy it seems to talk about issues when they don't have a direct impact on your life.
  • Hmmm
    Has anyone thought that this is how this woman gets to a financial level to purchase such an expensive dwelling? Making frivolous lawsuits against companies that are just trying to make a difference and beautify a neighborhood? Sounds like a cry of "poor me" and "you owe me". Whah whah whah. If, and I do say if, she found out after the fact, then shame on her for not researching what she was buying. I don't complain that my car doesn't have a moon roof so I can take in the midnight stars on a country road, but I knew that before I bought it! Get over it!
  • RE: Speed racer
    Speed racer, please pause a moment and think. There are several aspects of your post that require a bit of thought...

    First, as "good for her" has pointed out, the public doesn't know all of the facts. As a matter of fact, Ms. Gossett did not know about the terrace until after she had made a downpayment on the condo. I stated this before. Her decision was well thought out. The area is largely accessible by wheelchair, permitting community access. Moving into a unit not yet constructed would enable her to design a living area in accordance with her needs instead of incurring costly retrofitting.

    Second, this suit is progress because (1) it brings public attention to the issue, (2) it will hopefully result in enforcement of relevant laws, and (3) if successful, Ms. Gossett will get to enjoy her condo just like her able-bodied peers.

    Third, while I'm all for you enjoying life, why do it in your world when you could do it in the shared world? That is, you seem quite unhappy. You consider yourself "bound to a wheelchair." I see mine as a great liberation device. There's a lot of loathing in your post... I would rather be out in the world helping bring further liberty and equality to my disabled brothers and sisters than minimizing their needs in my little hermit world. Think about it...
  • @emily
    go ahead and call yourself disabled. being in a wheelchair doesn't make one disabled (trust me, I know) nor does it excuse one from using the old noodle and living somewhere she can get around. how is this suit progress? so people can think those of us bound to a wheelchair are a bunch of whiners that can't be bothered to research a condo we are about to buy? go cry to someone that cares about how unfair life is! i'll be in my world enjoying life!
  • you assume a lot
    Waylo,
    My thoughts without knowing the facts, as you evidently also do not: In general in a NEW condo building, you buy and put your money down based on the plans. Sometimes the developer changes the plans, for whatever reason. (My developer promised things that were not delivered, some condo owners are suing or have sued over these.) In this case these changes could have been adding the roof terrace or changing accessibility to the roof terrace, things very crucial to her decision to buy the condo. If either of these are true and she paid the same as everyone else, she is entitled to recompense. There would be other possible scenarios as well. Commenters are making this about an individual situation rather than about the principle and compliance with the law. This "conversation" reveals the very reason why the law is necessary.
  • @disgusted
    Do you enjoy shellfish? Why can't everyone enjoy shellfish? Some things just aren't meant for everyone, that's life. I'm not trying to be insensitive, but there are other areas near this area that will give her the same view of the skyline that are ADA accessible.
  • test drive
    Not sure why Katrina didn't check this out before she bought the place. You typically don't buy a car w/o test driving it first. I say refund the money she's paid and find somewhere else to live.
  • I hope Katrina knows who you are!
    I hope that Katrina knows who you are! If you know the facts one would think you would be that much more respectful of the situation. Rather than stating she is just going after money. Do you live in the apartment building? Do you enjoy the roof top? Why should everyone not be able to enjoy the roof top views?
    • RE: Jessica
      Jessica, how would you like to be carried every time you wanted to go somewhere? Not only would it constitute a lack of independence, but it also constitutes an enormous safety hazard. Who is supposed to do the lifting? Who bears the liability? What happens if a fall occurs? What happens in cases of physical injury?

      Even more basic than those questions, you presume to know a lot about Ms. Gossett's condition. What if her disability is such that getting carried is agonizing? What if she is too heavy to be carried?

      Issues like these (i.e., independence, safety, ease) are why the ADA and other accessibility laws exist. At a fundamental civil rights level, Ms. Gossett is entitled to the same level of access as her condo neighbors. This includes reasonable access to the rooftop.
    • Fact check
      Justin, you claim to know the facts, but I don't think you know all of them. Did you know, for example, that Ms. Gossett paid out of pocket for the elevator equipment you mention? Furthermore, Ms. Gossett did not have notice of the rooftop terrace at the time she placed a downpayment on the condo. The fact that she uses a wheelchair doesn't mean that she's stupid.

      I also must say that I'm stunned by all of the anti-ADA vitroil expressed on this website. More accurately, I'm disappointed. It's truly societal barriers that impose the greatest disability, whether they be attitudinal barriers erected by those the pseudonymed "bad law" and "cry me a river," or artificial aesthetic constructions like stairs. Fortunately, the ADA can contend with the latter impediments. And whether you like it or not, the ADA is the law and needs to be complied with as such.

      A successful attorney, Ms. Gossett doesn't need the money. She needs equal treatment. And as a fellow member of the disability community, I thank her for pursuing that end. I see this suit as progress for all of us.
    • Downtown
      there are TONS of places downtown that are not handicap accessible to their rooftops- the building i live in is one of them!! and it looks like from their rendering that it would require little to no maintenance to maintain that rooftop- it can't be high maintenance material or else they wouldn't use it on roof-tops! if she wants to get up there so badly, then can't someone just carry her? its not like is absolutely not accessible, its just not accessible with a wheel chair! ugh, people.
      • boo hoo
        caveat emptor sweetheart. i have a hard time believing that someone would sink a few hundred thousand into a condo without making sure she could get around. stop feeling sorry for yourself, toots, and start living life. and because i'm feeling altruistic this a.m. i'll let you in on a secret: the indy skyline really isn't that impressive.
      • ADA is ridiculous
        I think "reasonable" accomodations should be made such as the front door, equal access to live in any unit,however there are just things,such as the rooftop, that are over the top. Life is not fair. Short people can't ride the rides, blind people can't drive, young people, can't drink or talk on the phone while driving. This is just another example of too much government. Sure it sucks to be in a wheel chair and not make it to the roof, live in another building, be thankful for all the access that wheelchair bound folks have now with ramps and wheelchairs. So many want equality in life, but it doesn't exist and never will. Some win, some lose, most accept what they have and don't complain about what they don't!
      • you know facts or have opinions?
        Justin, Perhaps there are homeowner gatherings on the roof, which she cannot participate in. Perhaps she thought/was told the elevator would go up to the roof. Perhaps she assumed a responsible developer, construction co, and architect would follow the law. Perhaps you don't know what you're talking about.

        The developer of my condo lied to buyers about amenities, so this one might have as well.

        Msmith: If a condo owner stops paying HOA fees, a lien is placed on their unit. Not paying is not an option.
      • I know some facts
        I happen to know people who live there and I know for a fact that the developer put in thousands of dollars for a special front door to the entire building and special elevator equipment just for that girl and that she did know about the roof access prior to the purchase. Sounds like she is just trying to get $.
        • Sounds righ
          Sounds like this lady has a pretty good case here. Not very smart on the developers end...or she could always stop paying her HOA fees
        • What Does North of South Have to Do with Anything
          Building 101, yes, ADA compliance should be something all architects know, but I am not sure what the North South development has to do with the price of eggs? In the case of North South, the city is proposing loan guarantees, etc., it would merely be a lender not a co-developer or owner, so there would never be any legal liability for the city related to any issues of construction, etc. For example, if you run a meth lab out of your home, your bank which gave you the mortgage for your house is not legally liable for your actions because it is merely a lender. Now that that little diversion has been cleared up, getting back to the real issue, it is strange that the 3 Mass developers would not have though of ADA compliance, especially when they were aware that a person with a disability has put down a deposit to buy a unit their building.
        • Did they not have the Architecturals checked for Code Compliance?
          Don't good quality architects always have their plans code reviewed to avoid problems with their plans? Maybe that is just for Fire/Safety... Thus the Architect would know or should about a law that has been on the books since 1988.

          Wow could this same thing happen to the infamous North and South City Financed Development? Just who will indemnify the city against errors such as this???

          What happened? Check this link out these guys are tops in their class. Hopefully, they can get the building in compliance for all.

          Click this link. http://www.rtmconsultants.com/default.php
          • they need to be accountable
            These are not fly-by-night outfits, but apparently they are not world-class. They knew better but didn't do the right thing. They also are guilty of lack of foresight, should have seen this coming. Blinders on, I would guess. Not as smart as a community has a right to expect their leading companies to be.

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          1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

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