Cops Aren’t Liable for Rejection of Service Dog

     (CN) – Police who escorted a veteran with a service dog out of a hotel are not liable for aiding and abetting discrimination, the Montana Supreme Court ruled.
     Corey Hansen says a seizure disorder is just one of the service-connected conditions from which he suffers as a military veteran. He has a service dog that alerts him when a seizure is coming.
     Hansen says he and the dog had stayed before at the C’Mon Inn in Bozeman, and that the hotel had certification papers for his dog on file.
     After making a reservation with friends in 2011, Hansen allegedly arrived at the hotel in September with his dog clad in a vest identifying his service-animal status.
     Betraying the hotel’s name, however, staff allegedly barred the dog’s entry.
     Both Hansen and hotel employees wound up calling 911, and Bozeman police officers wound up escorting Hansen from the premises.
     In addition to giving Hansen some suggestions about other hotels are more pet-friendly, the officers told Hansen he could file a complaint against the C’Mon Inn.
     Hansen followed that advice, and the Montana Human Rights Bureau awarded him $15,000 in damages against the hotel.
     Hansen had also complained to the bureau that the police had discriminated against him, but both the bureau and Human Rights Commission disagreed, leading Hansen to pursue his complaint in court.
     He alleged that the Bozeman Police Department “aided, abetted and facilitated” the hotel’s discrimination.
     A judge in Gallatin granted the department summary judgment, however, and the Montana Supreme Court affirmed on May 26.
     “There is nothing but speculation to support a contention that the C’Mon Inn staff would have reversed its decision if only the officers had done or said something different,” Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote for the unanimous court.
     McGrath added that police officers are not required to decide discrimination cases on the spot.
     “Determination of whether there has been unlawful discrimination can involve intricate issues of fact and proof,” he wrote. “These are not the kinds of situations that are suited to resolution by officers responding to a 911 call.”

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