April 7, 2011
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has ruled against a Boston landlord who claimed an HIV-positive man's health concerns were "irrelevant" when it came to the building's no-pets policy. MCAD found tenant Richard M. Blake "established that keeping his emotional support dog is a reasonable accommodation necessary to afford him an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises," and "submitted credible evidence ... that [he required the dog] to assist him to live on his own and function independently given his physical problems related to HIV/AIDS and his resulting depression, anxiety and isolation after the loss of his mother and sister." Blake got the pet in 2008 on the advice of his physician, who recommended an emotional support dog to boost his mood and improve his health. MCAD fined building owners Brighton Garden Apartments, the Lombardi Corporation and Michael J. Lombardi $5,000 for committing disability discrimination, according to the Massachusetts' Lawyers Weekly news blog; Blake was awarded $25,000 in emotional distress damages.