On August 5, 2020 Relman Colfax filed a Fair Housing Act administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleging that the owners and operators of the RiverWoods Senior Living Community in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, discriminated on the basis of disability against Ruth Gural, who had progressive memory loss and needed some help with activities of daily living.   After years of living peacefully in her own apartment, RiverWoods threatened to evict her because her adult son Harry insisted on staying with her—beginning in March 2020—to provide her care and support during the COVID pandemic, when RiverWoods sought to bar all family, friends and private caregivers from even visiting residents. 

Relman Colfax requested a reasonable accommodation on behalf of the Gurals, in the form of an exception to the usual visitor policy, to allow Harry to stay with his mother until the pandemic abated and it was safe for another private caregiver to return. After RiverWoods denied the request in July 2020 and threatened to sue Harry to remove him from the property, the firm filed the HUD complaint.

On January 12, 2022, HUD issued a Determination and Charge, against Albright Care Services and Asbury Communities d/b/a Riverwoods finding reasonable cause to believe that they discriminated against the Gurals because of Mrs. Gural’s disability by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to let Harry stay with her as a live-in aide during the pandemic and threatening to terminate her tenancy.  The Gurals elected to have the matter referred to the United States Department of Justice to bring an action under the Fair Housing Act.  Subsequently and after the COVID pandemic lessened, the Gurals left RiverWoods and Ruth Gural later died but her estate continued her action on her behalf.

On April 11, 2023, the Department of Justice announced that the case had been settled, with a Consent Decree that requires Albright and Asbury to adopt reasonable accommodation policies at all eight of Asbury’s continuing care retirement communities, make changes in their Handbooks and Resident Agreements to reflect the availability of reasonable accommodations, and provide notice and training to all of Albright and Asbury’s owners, principals, executives and upper management and senior leadership, including their sales and marketing departments, about the Consent Order and the policies.  Harry Gural and the Estate of Ruth Gural received $215,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees under the settlement.

The Relman Colfax team consists of Reed Colfax and Sara Pratt, with paralegal assistance from Margaret Moran.

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