Watters v. Homeowners Association at the Preserve at Bridgewater, No. 19-3499 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Watters moved into the Preserve as the only black couple in the subdivision. Kate and Ed Mamaril have each been president of the Homeowners’ Association (HOA). When the Watters began construction, Ed told them that they were not welcome. There was a dispute about the Maramils’ cats. Subsequent encounters involved shoving and racial epithets. When the Watters asked for copies of the HOA’s restrictive covenants, Marmaril, as HOA president, refused to provide copies. The Watters had disputes with the HOA concerning mailboxes, paint colors, and porch posts. The HOA has a rule against privacy fences. Watters is a veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD after being trapped in a cave, with a dog. He is unable to work because of a terminal lung condition that further exacerbates his reactivity to dogs. Watters states that his doctors advised him to get a privacy fence to mitigate his PTSD triggers. He unsuccessfully requested the privacy fence as a reasonable and necessary accommodation. A subsequent dispute involved the Watters’ plan to construct a pool.
In a suit under Fair Housing Act and 42 U.S.C. 1982, the district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The Watters can proceed with their race discrimination claim under the Act and section 1982 against the Mamarils, but not against the HOA. Without any evidence showing that the HOA knew about Watters’s PTSD, the Watters’ failure-to-accommodate claim cannot survive.