Sunday, June 19, 2016

Grieving Brooklyn Mom Faces The Boot For Rejecting Landlord's Demand To Get Rid Of Recently-Deceased, Cancer-Stricken 9-Year Old Son's Emotional Support Dog; With Help From Pro Bono Lawyer, She Responds w/ Federal Lawsuit To Halt Eviction, Seek Reasonable Accommodation

In Brooklyn, New York, the New York Daily News reports:
  • A grieving mom, who recently lost her 9-year-old son to brain cancer, is facing eviction from her Brooklyn apartment for rejecting the landlords’ demand that she get rid of the little dog that once comforted the terminally ill boy.

    Monique James, 40, filed a lawsuit [last week] in Brooklyn Federal Court to stop the eviction proceedings and seeks a reasonable accommodation so the Bichon Frise named King can stay in the dog-free building.

    “I can’t get rid of the dog. The dog is a part of my family,” James told the Daily News. “It’s my son’s dog and I feel like when I’m with the dog, I’m with him in a sense.”

    King hasn’t left her side since her son Jelani died on March 22.

    James, an administrator at Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, has lived at the building on Park Place in Brownsville since 2011 with her daughter Leila, 17, and Jelani, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and hydrocephalus early last year.

    She purchased the dog for Jelani in May 2015 to provide him with companionship and to reduce the bedridden child’s pain, depression and anxiety, according to the lawsuit.

    “Him and the kid were un-detachable,” James told The News. “It was just them two, 24 hours a day. The dog was in bed with him.”

    Jelani and King became “best friends,” she added.

    A month later, all the tenants in the building received a notice warning that keeping animals in their apartments was a violation, without exception, of their leases.

    King remained by Jelani’s side, and the landlords went to housing court to toss the family out on the street.

    It appeared the matter might be resolved when James was allegedly informed by management that the dog could stay as long as she provided proof of immunization. But when James was handed papers to sign, she was shocked to read King could remain only until “the demise” of Jelani.

    James broke down in tears and refused to sign the agreement.

    “I tried to reason with them on a humanitarian level as to why I had the dog,” she recalled. “They kept me going to court while my son was sick.”

    The building is owned by nonprofit Park Monroe II Rehab Housing, and managed by Northeast Brooklyn Housing. The defendants’ lawyer Edward Weiss said he could not comment until he’s had a chance to review the suit with his clients.

    “No compassion, no humanity — they just don’t care,” James said of management’s response to Jelani’s death.

    Her lawyer Chantal Johnson, of Brooklyn Legal Services,(1) agreed.

    “Requiring her to remove the dog is egregious and indefensible,” Johnson said.
For more, see Grieving mom faces eviction from Brooklyn apartment for keeping dead son’s dog.
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(1) Brooklyn Legal Services is part of Legal Services NYC, a non-profit organization providing legal services for low-income residents of New York City.

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