Scott v. Croom
On June 25, 2012, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a complaint on behalf of Dereck Scott alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and retaliation under the Fair Housing Act. The case is pending in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.
In January 2011, Mr. Scott developed multiple sclerosis and his ability to walk quickly declined. Within a few months, he used a wheelchair full-time. On October 5, 2011, Mr. Scott’s father requested permission from Scott’s landlord, Michael Croom, to make modifications to the house in Albuquerque, New Mexico Scott was renting. The modifications, such as widening the master bathroom doorway to allow Mr. Scott to pass through it in his wheelchair, had been recommended by a local rehabilitation hospital. Scott explicitly noted that the modifications would be made by licensed contractors and at no cost to Croom and that Scott would reverse the modifications at the end of his tenancy if Croom so desired. Croom rejected the request.
Days later, Scott made a second attempt by having a friend send Croom another letter requesting permission to make less extensive modifications and this time citing the applicable federal legal requirements. Croom again refused the request and retaliated by directing Scott and McGrath to vacate the property by the end of November.
After Croom was contacted by a reporter from the Albuquerque Journal, Croom told Scott and McGrath that they could remain in the house until the end of January 2012 if they agreed to leave voluntarily. Croom then moved his deadline earlier and tried to condition it on Scott and McGrath agreeing not to sue him. Croom threatened eviction proceedings if they did not agree. Croom effectively said to Scott, “safety and accessibility are your problem, not mine, and I am throwing you out because you tried to tell me otherwise.”
Scott and McGrath vacated the property just before the Christmas holidays because of Croom’s threat. They left behind close friends in a neighborhood they loved, that was great for their children, and that they wanted to stay in for a long time.