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Condo association accused of plotting to terrorize resident by forcing her to ride in elevators with dogs

By Jonathan Bilyk | Apr 1, 2015

The wife of a prominent Chicago area bankruptcy lawyer has again sued her condo association, contending the association has unleashed a plot to terrorize her by forcing her to ride in her building’s elevators with hostile dog-owning neighbors and their dog walkers, who she alleges have physically, verbally and mentally assaulted her over her concerns, which arose from anxiety linked to her diagnosed case of post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a dog attack in the back seat of a car years earlier.

On March 23, Holly Geraci, wife of attorney Peter Frances Geraci, filed suit in federal court in Chicago against the Union Square Condominium Association, asserting the association has violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act by denying her request, as a legally recognized disabled person under the acts, to obtain a key to lock-out the elevator while she rides it down from the building’s top floor, or other steps to relieve the problem of dogs and their hostile owners or walkers in the enclosed space of the elevator.

Geraci is being represented in the action by attorneys Jefferey O. Katz, of the Patterson Law Firm, and Jonathan Parker, of Geraci Law.

The litigation marks the latest stage in the Geracis' legal battles with the condo association overseeing the Union Square buildings, in the 300 block of West Hubbard Street, in the shadow of Merchandise Mart.

Previously, the couple had sued the association over what they alleged to be the association’s failure to speedily repair a defective parapet wall on the rooftop, which they said had prompted the association to close off access to the roof and the Geracis' rooftop deck.

This most recent complaint, however, stems from an ongoing disagreement between the association and the Geracis dating back to a decision in 2004, which Geraci said in her complaint turned her condo buildings from a “dog-free building to a dog free-for-all building.”

At that time, the association agreed to allow owners to freely own dogs in the building.

However, Geraci said the association did not institute any clear rules to govern the presence of dogs in the elevators. Instead, the association merely instructed dog owners in building rules to be respectful of those who might have allergies or other concerns about riding in elevators with dogs and to “acquiesce” to their requests when sharing an elevator.

Geraci said dog owners and their hired dog walkers in her building have been anything but acquiescent, routinely ignoring her requests to wait for the next elevator when she is riding down, barging their way onto the elevator, swearing at her or even in some instances “viciously” attacking her, resulting in battery charges against the alleged assailant.

To remedy the problem, Geraci said she has repeatedly asked the association to give her a key, such as those given to movers or emergency responders, to lock-out the elevator and prevent others from riding in the elevator on her way down from her condo. To support this request, Geraci cited her diagnosis, provided by a licensed psychologist, of PTSD, which stems from a dog attack she suffered in a car years earlier, now making her anxious about riding in enclosed spaces with dogs.

Geraci said the association has repeatedly denied her request, demanding more information from other medical sources to establish the diagnosis. Further, she said the association has launched a harassment campaign designed to stir up her neighbors against her by labeling her a “troublemaker,” and noting her pending legal actions against the association in fliers posted in the building.

In her complaint, Geraci has demanded unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against the association, as well as an injunction requiring the association to accommodate her request by providing her with an elevator key.

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