United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge
Geraci filed suit against Union Square Condominium
Association, alleging that Union Square denied her request
for accommodations and retaliated against her in violation of
the Fair Housing Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act. Union
Square has moved for summary judgment.
owns a condominium unit on the north side of Chicago in a
building managed by Union Square. Union Square's primary
responsibility is to maintain the common areas of the
building. Geraci's unit is situated on the top floor of
the building, and she has lived there since the year 2000.
Union Square permits its residents to own dogs and to bring
their dogs into common areas of the building, with the caveat
that "[p]et owners should be aware that some people
might have a fear [of] animals" and should
"acquiesce to their concerns and requests" when
sharing confined spaces such as elevators. Pl.'s Ex. 147
Geraci's experiences with dogs and her accommodation
says that she has a fear of dogs. She has had claustrophobia
from a young age, but her claustrophobia became more severe
after she had a traumatic experience with a dog in a confined
space. Def.'s Ex. 11 (Geraci Dep.) at 49:18-23,
61:21-62:24. Geraci described, "I was in the back seat
of my dad's two-door [car and] a huge German Shepherd
jumped into the car and bit me from head to toe and nobody
could get the dog off of me." Id. at
52:19-53:5. She suffered over forty bites and had to be taken
to a local hospital. Id. at 53:6-24. After that
incident, Geraci developed a fear of medium-to-large dogs.
Id. at 54:13-22. And although Geraci owned a Cairn
terrier from 1985 to early 2000 that she says weighed ten
pounds, she contends that her fear of larger dogs did not
dissipate during that period. Id. at 56:16-61:6. In
fact, she testified that she tried to avoid situations in
which she and her dog would be exposed to other dogs.
moving into her unit, however, Geraci had several negative
encounters with dogs and their owners. She attributed these
occurrences to Union Square's alleged non-enforcement of
its pet policy. From 2004 to 2013, Geraci filed several
incident reports with Union Square alleging that residents
violated the building's pet policy. For example, on June
23, 2004, Geraci reported that a dog walker came into the
building with four dogs at one time, which she said created a
"dangerous" situation. Pl.'s Ex. 149 at 0596.
On July 6, 2004, Geraci wrote, "please . . . inform [the
dog walkers] not to get on elevators when asked not to."
Id. at 0602. And on August 11, 2013, Geraci reported
that a dog walker, Robin DiBuono, "tried to board the
elevator without asking." Id. at 0826. Union
Square did not act on any of Geraci's reports. On August
27, 2013, Geraci had an altercation with DiBuono in an
elevator-an incident that Geraci would later describe as an
attack in which she received a "beating" from
DiBuono. Geraci Dep. at 83:15-23.
October 2013, Geraci was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress
disorder. She testified during her deposition that she now
lives in a perpetual state of fear that prevents her from
being able to sleep or to leave her home. Id. at
82:3-21, 83:1-20; Pl.'s Resp. at 11-12. On October 29,
2014, Geraci, through her husband Peter Geraci, submitted to
Union Square a request for an accommodation under the FHA.
Def.'s Ex. 12. Geraci asked Union Square to "modify
an elevator in each building to provide [her] with a key to
provide ability to ride non-stop, so she is not forced to
ride with dogs." Id. The letter stated that
Geraci "is very afraid of being in an enclosed space
with dogs, due to a history of being attacked."
Id. In response to her request, Union Square asked
Geraci to provide a physician's certificate. Def.'s
Ex. 15. Geraci sent Union Square a letter from her
psychologist, Dr. Kathy Goggin, dated November 25, 2014. Dr.
Goggin wrote, Geraci's "diagnosis is Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD; DSM-IV 309.81) . . . . Accommodations
which would address repeated and unexpected re-exposure to
fearful stimulus situations would be beneficial to her
well-being and efforts to resolve the PTSD." Def.'s
Ex. 16. On December 5, 2014, Union Square informed Geraci
that it would evaluate her request but reserved the right to
ask for further documentation if necessary. Def.'s Ex.
17. On February 3, 2015, Geraci supplemented her
accommodation request to include a request that Union Square
enforce its pet policy and install cameras in the
building's hallways and elevators. Def.'s Ex. 18. On
March 5, 2015, Union Square informed Geraci that "based
on [her] failure and refusal to provide information as
requested [the physician's certificate] . . . it is
difficult to ascertain certain information as to whether or
not an accommodation is required or if there is a nexus
between the complained of condition and the request."
Def.'s Ex. 20.
Litigation initiated by Geraci
addition to this case, Geraci has filed three other lawsuits
against Union Square. The Court discusses these in detail
because Union Square contends that her failure to assert her
FHA claim in the other cases bars the present federal suit
under the doctrine of claim preclusion.
The personal injury suit
January 2, 2014, Geraci filed suit in state court against
DiBuono, Union Square, and others seeking to recover for
injuries she said she had received from her August 2013
altercation with DiBuono. She asserted claims against DiBuono
for assault and battery and alleged that DiBuono
"intentionally, willfully and maliciously intended to
cause physical and mental injury to [Geraci] by her
attack" on August 27, 2013. Id. ¶ 149.
DiBuono filed a cross-claim alleging that Geraci had
committed a battery against her.
same suit, Geraci asserted claims against Union Square to
recover for the same injuries, alleging that the association
breached a duty of care in failing to enforce its pet policy
and that this caused the August 27, 2013 attack to occur.
Pl.'s Ex. 112 at 4. On August 6, 2014, the state court
dismissed Geraci's claims against Union Square,
concluding that it had a duty to maintain the elevators but
no duty "to avoid Injuries by a third party's
criminal conduct." Pl.'s Ex. 108 at 4. Geraci moved
for leave to amend her complaint to include a claim against
Union Square for breach of fiduciary duty. The court granted
the motion in October 2014 but ultimately, in June 2015,
dismissed Geraci's claims against Union Square. The court
stated that "[w]hile it is true that [Union Square]
w[as] required by Section 18.4 of the Condominium Act to
exercise the 'care required of a fiduciary' in
performing [its] duties (735 ILCS 604/ 18.4), " Union
Square had "no duty under Section 18.4 to protect
[Geraci] from attacks by third parties, whether that duty
consisted of policing the common elements of the building or
enacting a Pet Rule more to [Geraci's] liking."
Pl.'s Ex. 112 at 5-6.
case proceeded to trial in 2016 on Geraci's and
DiBuono's claims against each other. On July 13, 2016, a
jury found in favor of DiBuono on Geraci's battery claim
and on DiBuono's battery counterclaim and awarded her
$150, 000 in compensatory damages and $125, 000 in punitive
damages. Def's Ex. 21.
The roof deck fiduciary duty suit
January 21, 2014-shortly after Geraci filed the personal
injury suit-she and her husband filed a second state court
suit, this one against Union Square and its board members.
She claimed breaches of fiduciary duty in relation to
decisions that Union Square made regarding her roof deck that
she said violated the association's bylaws. Pl.'s Ex.
123 at 12. Geraci also alleged that Union Square had
constructively evicted her from her unit because contractors
it hired caused damage to her roof deck, the association
prevented Geraci from repairing the deck, and it improperly
refused to repay her for the damage caused by the
contractors. Id. On May 18, 2015, the court
dismissed the fiduciary duty suit, finding that ...