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Landlord Ordered to Install Handicap-Accessible Shower After Court Fight

By Katie Honan | June 16, 2017 2:41pm | Updated on June 19, 2017 8:55am
 The shower inside Lynn Blue's apartment, which is too high for her disabled teenage daughter.
The shower inside Lynn Blue's apartment, which is too high for her disabled teenage daughter.
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NEW YORK CITY — Lynn Blue spent more than three years fighting a "nightmare" to get a handicap-accessible bathtub for her 17-year-old daughter, who has been diagnosed with a range of disabilities including seizures, autism and vision problems.

Her landlord had refused for years to retrofit their Flushing apartment, where she's lived for decades, she said. Even though her daughter, Bianca Torres, likes the water, it was a struggle to lift her into the bathtub.

"It's hard enough taking her up the stairs, much less having to do maneuvering around the apartment, especially the bathroom," Blue said. "It was ridiculous in here. I went through a lot with her."

But last month, she saw the end of her long fight after the Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis, issued a final judgment in her case against her landlord — who will now have to install a walk-in shower within the next 90 days and pay $95,000 to Blue and Torres for emotional distress.

The landlord, Milena Jovic, could not be reached for comment. 

Blue's case is one of hundreds tried each year fought by the city's Human Rights Commission, who advocate for New Yorkers who need better access or accommodations in apartments, schools, public buildings and in offices.

​There are nearly one million New Yorkers living with a disability — which can range from advanced age to physical limitations to mental issues — according to the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.

The number of disability discrimination complaints have nearly doubled since the city started tracking them in 2012 — when there were 149 complaints filed — to last year, when that number rose to 302, the commission said.

There was a 25 percent jump in housing-related disability cases last year, up to 122 investigations from 98 the year before.

The decision in favor of Blue is one of hundreds that can let others know that "every person in New York City with a disability has the legal right to a reasonable accommodation inside their apartments and that landlords must provide it,” Malalis said in a statement. 

“It’s not only the law, it’s also the right thing to do. People with disabilities and their families should not suffer because landlords refuse to make accommodations."

For Blue, who expects to be able to use her long-awaited walk-in shower some time this summer, the legal process was worth it. 

"I didn't think it would be that long, but it was worth the wait," Blue told DNAinfo. "I thank God He was on my side."