(WSVN) - He needs a wheelchair to get around. When his condo association decided to shut down the elevator, he had what he thought was a reasonable request, but then the association said no, so he turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When Alejandro was younger, he loved to ride his motorcycle.
When a friend was killed riding his, Alejandro said it was time to get rid of his bike.
Alejandro Lutin: “And on the way to sell my motorcycle, I got hit … collapsed lungs, broke almost every bone in my body.”
After being in a coma for six months, Alejandro was left paralyzed, but the man does not let life pass him.
Alejandro Lutin: “You know, I have my job, I have triplets, I have my girlfriend, I have my family, I have friends.”
On the weeks Alejandro has custody of the triplets, he gets them up, ready for school and drives them there before heading to work.
Don’t believe it? Just watch him snatch his wheelchair up and toss it in his van.
Alejandro Lutin: “I have my disability, but I want to live a normal life, which I have.”
But now he is facing steps he cannot overcome.
Alejandro Lutin: “So they want to shut down the elevator on March 20th.”
Recently, the association decided to modernize the single elevator in the building.
Since his lease is expiring at the end of April, Alejandro asked the property manager to wait until then to shut down the elevator.
Alejandro Lutin: “He just basically told me, listen, your disability and that issue with the elevator is not my problem, you have your own life and your own life problems, I have mine.”
That answer stunned him.
Alejandro Lutin: “That was one of those moments where I really felt degraded. It felt like a no way out.”
Clearly, Alejandro cannot get up and down the stairs. The association’s solution? Just call fire rescue to carry him up and down the stairs when he needed to go out.
Alejandro Lutin: “And to me, that’s just inhumane, you know, because I’m taking firefighters away from real-life emergencies.”
Alejandro says the elevator works just fine, just wait six weeks to remodel it, and he will be gone, but his association isn’t budging.
Alejandro Lutin: “They’re not living in a wheelchair. Maybe they don’t know what it’s like, but to me, this is my life, and if I don’t look out for myself, no one else will.”
Well, Howard, legally does Alejandro have the law on his side?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “In this case, yes, he does–because the Fair Housing Act requires a disabled person to receive reasonable accommodation. In this case, it’s simple: delay the elevator project six weeks.”
We tried to contact the property manager for Cambridge at Century Village condos.
He wouldn’t talk to us. Their attorney wrote there does not appear to be a reasonable available accommodation during the elevator downtime.
That’s when we asked Matt Dietz and his Nova University disability law class to help us help Alejandro.
Matthew Dietz: “When a person has an issue that deals with accessibility, we’re here to fix it.”
And they did. Alexander Lumley did the research.
Alexander Lumley: “Like, why is it so difficult to just try and help someone … we’re going to have to actually get the court’s help to stop this because it’s just wrong what you’re doing.”
After the Nova law clinic vowed to go to federal court to help Alejandro, the condo’s lawyer replied, while they legally think they are right and Alejandro is wrong,.they agreed to move back the renovation ‘til April 24– just what Alejandro asked the law class to do for him.
Alejandro Lutin: “I literally wanted to leave work and like hug everyone that was involved, even though I never met them. I was just like so excited about that, so it was definitely a good, good time.”
Matt and his students won and of course, so did Alejandro.
Alejandro Lutin: “The work they did was phenomenal. I was extremely happy, super happy.”
Glad it worked out and Matt and Alejandro both say the same thing regarding disability issues, never give up. In fact, no matter what the problem is, keep fighting.
Fighting a battle and feeling alone? Need a lift? Take the steps to contact us. Let us roll in with a solution.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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