Sinisgallo v. Town of Islip Housing Authority

865 F. Supp. 2d 307 (2012)

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Sinisgallo v. Town of Islip Housing Authority

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
865 F. Supp. 2d 307 (2012)

Facts

Kathie Sinisgallo and Steve Tsilimparis (plaintiffs) were tenants of a New York housing project, which was run by the Town of Islip Housing Authority (IHA) (defendant). Sinisgallo and Tsilimparis both suffered from mental illnesses and were receiving psychiatric treatment and Social Security checks as their primary sources of income. IHA leased the pair an apartment in accordance with its public-housing program, which was aimed at providing housing for low-income families or families with elderly or disabled individuals. The pair’s lease began in June 2010, and in May 2011, the two filed a complaint with IHA regarding a neighbor who had allegedly shot their cat with a BB gun. Following the cat incident, Tsilimparis confronted the neighbor and ended up hitting him, bloodying his eye and nose. While criminal proceedings were pending, IHA sent Sinisgallo and Tsilimparis a tenancy-termination notice. The pair requested review of the termination; however, IHA decided to continue with eviction proceedings. Sinisgallo and Tsilimparis appealed and were granted a formal administrative hearing, which took place more than six months after the incident. A private attorney (defendant) acted as the hearing officer, and the pair were represented by counsel and had an opportunity to cross-examine IHA’s witness. Sinisgallo and Tsilimparis’s primary argument was that IHA was required to offer them a reasonable accommodation as disabled tenants in accordance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) before terminating their tenancy. The pair presented testimony from a social worker who was involved in Tsilimparis’s mental-health treatment who testified that Tsilimparis had a medication adjustment and had begun intense therapy following the incident. The pair requested a probationary period to show that the incident was isolated, resulted from Tsilimparis’s mental illness, and could be prevented with proper medical treatment as it had been for the six months leading up to the hearing. Following the hearing, the pair were found in violation of their lease and IHA proceeded with the eviction process. Sinisgallo and Tsilimparis sued IHA and the hearing officer in a United States district court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Spatt, J.)

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