BRIGHTON (CBS) — A Brighton man will be allowed to keep his dog in his apartment after winning a discrimination lawsuit against his landlord.
Richard Blake, who’s been living with AIDS for 20 years, says he’s disabled by the disease and needs his dog Kayla to help him physically and emotionally.
“It’s hard to be depressed when you have a creature like this that’s so happy to be around you no matter what,” said Blake.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.
But when he got the dog on the advice of his doctor three years ago, he was violating a no-pet-policy at the Brighton Gardens apartments, even though he says the landlord had given permission.
Michael Lombardi, whose company runs the property, admits it had been a relaxed requirement for awhile, but was enforced a few months later, and he says he didn’t know Blake was disabled.
“The notion of discrimination requires specific intent. We never intended to discriminate against Mr. Blake, we’ve never done it to anybody,” said Lombardi.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled that “requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.”
Blake Lombardi has been ordered to pay Blake a civil penalty of $25,000, and a fine to the state of $5,000, both of which he plans to appeal. He also says he’s never moved to evict Richard Blake, but can’t say what will happen when his lease runs out at the end of August.
Blake says he only took a stand, and with his dog is now better for it.
“It’s not out of spite, it’s just standing up for your rights,” he said. “It’s good to get the word out to other people.”