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LaRosa v. River Quarry Apartments, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 4, 2019

ROBERT LAROSA, IVA LAROSA, and INTERMOUNTAIN FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
RIVER QUARRY APARTMENTS, LLC, RAFANELLI & NAHAS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION; DEANNE PIRNIE; LAW OFFICES OF KIRK A. CULLIMORE; and KIRK CULLIMORE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. LYNN WINMILL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendants River Quarry Apartments, LLC, Rafanelli & Nahas Management Corporation, and Deanne Pirnie's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 12). For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant the motion with leave to amend.

         BACKGROUND

         From September 2017 through February 2018, plaintiffs Robert and Iva LaRosa lived in an apartment at River Quarry Apartments in Boise. During that entire time, Mr. LaRosa's support dog Sid lived with them in the apartment. The LaRosas nevertheless claim that defendants discriminated against them by “imposing unreasonable restrictions on the process to approve companion animals . . . and by making unlawful inquiries into the nature and severity of residents' disabilities with the purpose or effect of excluding or otherwise discriminating against people with disabilities.” Compl., Dkt. 1, at 1.

         1. Allegations Related to the LaRosas

         On August 30, 2017, the LaRosas applied to rent an apartment at the River Quarry Apartments. River Quarry typically changes additional fees for dog owners, but the LaRosas requested an accommodation to keep Sid as an emotional support animal. They provided River Quarry with a copy of a September 4, 2016 note from a nurse practitioner, which states: “Please allow Mr. Larosa to have a companion dog with him to help manage his post-traumatic stress disorder.” Id. ¶ 18.

         Roughly a week later, on September 7, 2017, the LaRosas received an email from River Quarry management stating, “We have approved you based on your rental qualifications.” Id. ¶ 25. The email went on to state that “We still need to process the approval of approving [sic] your assistance animal.” Id. The email instructed the LaRosas to complete two forms entitled (1) “Animal Identification Form, ” and (2) “Resident's Request for Assistance Animal.”

         The LaRosas completed and returned the forms the same day, identifying Dr. Andrew Wilper as Mr. LaRosa's primary care physician. River Quarry then asked Mr. LaRosa to have Dr. Wilper, complete a third form, titled “Verification for Assistance Animal.”

         Dr. Wilper did not complete this form; instead on September 12, 2017, he wrote a letter to Mr. LaRosa, which stated:

I attest that you have been under my care since October 2016 to the present. I am familiar with your history and with the functional and coping limitations imposed by your emotional/mental health-related issues. In my opinion, an emotional support animal may help mitigate the symptoms you are currently experiencing.

Id. ¶ 30. The LaRosas provided this letter to River Quarry Apartments that same day (September 12), and on September 19 they moved into the apartment along with Sid.

         At some point between September 12 and 27, 2017, Defendant Kirk Cullimore, an attorney acting on behalf of River Quarry Apartments, contacted Dr. Wilper's secretary, Kimberly Barker, regarding Mr. LaRosa. Ms. Barker declined to speak with Mr. Cullimore “[b]ecause VA regulations and medical privacy laws prohibit medical providers from releasing information to third parties without a release form signed by the patient, . . . .” Id. ¶ 33.

         On September 27, 2017, Defendant Deanne Pirnie, the manager of River Quarry Apartments, informed the LaRosas that Dr. Wilper had refused to verify “the information” or “to even state that the letter was authentic.” Id. ¶ 34. Ms. Pirnie informed the LaRosas that because of this, “we cannot yet approve your request for an assistance animal.” ¶ 34. The LaRosas were told that they would “need to contact your doctor at the VA and provide them with them [sic] information and documentation necessary for them to not only confirm the need for the animal but to discuss the letter and verify it with us.” ¶ ...


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