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Litigation Spotlight

DRP Obtains Reasonable Accommodation and Damages for Allegheny County Child with Disabilities to Install a Fence

DRP successfully obtained a reasonable accommodation on behalf of an Allegheny County family so that a six-foot fence could be installed in the yard.  The family’s seven-year-old child, due to his disabilities, elopes, does not follow directions, and is unable to comprehend safety issues.  The Township’s zoning ordinance limits fences to four feet in certain portions of the family’s yard, but the family needed a six-foot fence to prevent the child from climbing over the fence and eloping.  The family requested an exemption from the four-foot fence restriction from the Wilkins Township Zoning Hearing Board, which denied the request.  Meanwhile, the child had no safe outdoor play area at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After filing a federal lawsuit under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Township granted the reasonable accommodation request to allow the family to install a six-foot fence.  The Township also paid monetary damages to the family as a result of the child’s inability to play outside and DRP’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

The case is N.H. v. Wilkins Township, No. 2:20-cv-1872, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  Click here to read the Consent Decree entered by the Court.