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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

State Goes to Bat for Depressed Artist

CHICAGO (CN) - The Illinois Department of Human Rights has gone to bat for a depressed artist who claims a condo association's refusal to let him keep his poodle has slashed his productivity, caused him to gain 40 lbs., and to suffer "acute depression and anguish."

The Illinois Department of Human Rights sued the 3150 Condominium Association on behalf of Nio Tavlos, in Cook County Court.

"Mr. Tavlos has been clinically diagnosed with the mental disability dysthymia, a form of depression," the complaint states.

"Mr. Tavlos's condition is chronic, lasting at least since he was diagnosed with depression 2001 and to the present. His condition is also substantial.

"As a result of his disability, Mr. Tavlos has experienced, among other things, a lack of energy, lack of motivation, low productivity, and depressed mood. ...

"Mr. Tavlos is an artist who lives part of the year in New Mexico and part of the year in Chicago.

"When Mr. Tavlos moved to Chicago, he had two miniature party poodles living at his residence in New Mexico.

"The dogs had a therapeutic effect of Mr. Tavlos' dysthymia in that his mood was more stable and less dark and he was more productive when he was with his dogs."

(Party poodles are miniature poodles that have two colors. Apparently there are disputes among the dogerati about whether a black and white poodle is a party poodle, or whether the true party poodle is apricot with a white blaze. At any rate, by general consensus, party poodles appear to be about half one color and half another.)

Tavlos' condo in Chicago prohibits pets, but in 2007 he learned that emotional support and service animals are permitted, the state says.

"Mr. Tavlos also wanted to have his two dogs live with him in the building as emotional support animals," according to the complaint.

Tavlos submitted letters to the building association from two of his doctors. Both said that Tavlos' mental health would greatly benefit from being permitted to live with his dogs.

However, "Despite the medical documentation Mr. Tavlos provided, the Association contends that he fabricated his disability to get around the 'no animal' policy," the complaint states.

"On information and belief, none of the Board members assessing Mr. Tavlos' medical documentation are medical professionals. ...

"The Association failed to engage in any interactive dialogue with Mr. Tavlos to discuss his medical condition, necessary documentation or alternative accommodations that might be provided.

"After Mr. Tavlos' second accommodation request, one of his dogs died of pancreatic cancer."

Tavlos then asked the association again to let his remaining dog live with him, but the condo association refused.

"As a result of not being allowed to have a support animal/s at the building, Mr. Tavlos completed 8 to 10 paintings in 2008 while in previous years he had completed up to 50," the complaint states.

"As a result of not being allowed to have a support animal/s at the building, Mr. Tavlos experienced and is experiencing acute depression and anguish. He has also gained 40 pounds because of his depression.

"As a result of defendant's actions, Mr. Tavlos suffered irreparable loss, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, loss of housing opportunity, and deprivation of his housing rights."

Illinois wants the court to order the condo association let Tavlos keep dog in his apartment, and to implement a policy to review and respond to requests for reasonable accommodation.

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