Battle Over Pesticide Spraying Heads to Court

CHICAGO (CN) – A man with an autoimmune disorder claims his condition worsened after his homeowner’s association refused to stop spraying dangerous pesticides and threatened to increase spraying near his condominium.

An anonymous plaintiff sued Rob Roy Country Club Village Association, its board of directors and Rowell Property Management Inc. in Chicago federal court on Wednesday, alleging negligence, infliction of emotional distress and violations of the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

Beginning in 1997, John Doe says his mother began asking for accommodation from Rob Roy over its frequent use of landscape pesticides and herbicides outside their condo. The requests were made by letter and during board meetings, and all were denied, according to the lawsuit.

Doe’s mother allegedly expressed concern about the chemical substances outside and near their unit and about the negative effects on the health and development of Doe, who was the only child living at Rob Roy at the time. The property includes 650 condominium units and more than 1,000 residents.

According to the complaint, the vast majority of Rob Roy’s residents were in retirement age and its board consisted entirely of members over the age of 65.

In 2006, Doe claims he became seriously ill and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. After his diagnosis, he and his mother increased the frequency of their requests to stop the use of pesticides, the complaint states.

From 2006 to 2009, the mother and son presented clinical studies, scientific research and alternative landscaping methods to Rob Roy in their requests for accommodation, Doe claims.

But he says the association and its board members denied all of their requests for accommodation with “great hostility.”

“In or around 2007, defendants specifically told plaintiff and his mother that defendants would spray more frequently outside and near his unit because the board and Rowell was [sic] tired of the frequent requests for accommodation,” the complaint states. “A representative of Rowell stated: ‘I will specifically make sure that the area around your unit is sprayed.’”

By 2009, the plaintiff alleges his disease progressed and became unmanageable. He says he was told by doctors that people with autoimmune conditions should avoid pesticides, allergens and chemicals because it can worsen symptoms.

“Plaintiff was no longer able to go outside his residential unit or leave any window open for any length of time due to the severe and adverse reaction his body had to the toxins and chemicals contained in the pesticides and herbicides being applied directly outside and near his residential unit,” the lawsuit states.

According to the complaint, Doe’s doctors recommended that Rob Roy allow him to remove carpeting from his unit to decrease allergens and toxins in his home.

The association responded by saying it would not change its policies and ultimately decided to “force plaintiff and his mother to move out of the neighborhood,” saying “they were not wanted in the community,” Doe alleges.

By 2010, Rob Roy allegedly sent Doe a 10-day demand for eviction and possession of the unit, which he says was in retaliation for his requests for accommodation. The association claimed Doe and his mother already removed the carpeting from their unit and replaced it with hardwood floors in violation of the community’s policies, according to the lawsuit.

Two years later, the association reportedly won a default judgment against Doe, as well a court order requiring him to replace the carpet and pay $40,000 in attorney’s fees.

Doe says he was hospitalized in 2013 and treated for alleged psychological injuries from continuous chronic stress and trauma brought on by Rob Roy’s repeated denials for accommodations.

Gregory Glen, an attorney representing Rob Roy and Rowell, strongly refuted the allegations, calling Doe’s claims “complete B.S.” He said the association is not even acknowledging the lawsuit and said Doe only filed the complaint because he is being evicted.

Doe seeks monetary damages and civil penalties under the Fair Housing Act. He is represented by Alfred D. Ivy III in Urbana, Ill.

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