Elder tenant returns home after settlement of disability lawsuit


DATE: September 12, 1996
Mark Lattanzi, 413-539-9796

ELDER TENANT RETURNS HOME AFTER SETTLEMENT
OF DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT

DATE: September 12, 1996
Mark Lattanzi, 413-539-9796

Eighty-nine year old Bertha Regish is returning to her home at the Meadowbrook Apartments in Northampton, MA after settling a housing discrimination lawsuit against the complex. Ms. Regish, who uses a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 1995, sued the owners after they would not take action to accommodate her need for a wheelchair in the apartment in which she has lived for over twenty years. The lawsuit was settled in late August, 1996.

Ms. Regish brought the suit so that she could leave the Northampton Nursing Home, where she had resided since October, 1995 and return home to live with her daughter. Ms. Regish had recovered sufficiently from the stroke to return home in March, 1996, but could not do so because she could not enter or exit her apartment in her wheelchair. Ms. Regish and her family made numerous requests that a ramp be built, but when they did not receive a commitment from the complex to accomodate her in her apartment, they filed suit in federal court.

The settlement provided that Meadowbrook build a ramp to Ms. Regish's apartment and modify parts of its interior. Now that the work is complete, Ms. Regish will return home and live with her daughter, Annie Regish. Her other daughter, Vicki Regish, also lives at the complex. "I only wanted to be able to live the rest of my life at home with Annie," Ms. Regish said.

The settlement also provides for an attorney's fee award of $3,500 for Ms. Regish's counsel, the Housing Discrimination Project, Inc. of Holyoke (HDP) and the Disability Law Center (DLC) of Northampton. "We hope this case will show that the disability discrimination laws in housing have meaning and must be followed," said Joel Feldman of HDP, one of the attorneys in the case.

HDP and DLC are non-profit organizations which have as part of their missions the representation of disabled individuals who seek redress in housing discrimination cases.