Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

LOCAL [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

LOCAL [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt


A homeless shelter that turned away a blind man's guide dog lost its bid to dismiss his lawsuit today, when a federal judge found that it is bound by the laws that govern residential housing.

The City Rescue Mission of New Castle faces lawsuits filed by Kenneth DeFiore and the Department of Justice, alleging that it violated the Fair Housing Act and other laws when it turned away the blind Mr. DeFiore and his chocolate Labrador retriever guide dog, Gabby.

The mission responded that it wasn't subject to the laws because it is a religious organization, and not a dwelling place, and because accommodating the dog would have unduly burdened it.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon found that there wasn't evidence that the mission was a religious organization under the law, and added that homeless shelters and even drug rehabilitation programs have been deemed to be dwellings in past cases.

The mission lists "a number of alleged burdens ... including, but not limited to, triggering another resident's allergy to pet dander, fleas, errant hairs, or even triggering a volatile emotional response from another resident caused by past (and latent) trauma," the judge wrote. But at the time Mr. DeFiore arrived with Gabby at the door, mission staff didn't ask questions that would have showed them whether any such burden existed, the judge found.

The denial of the motion to dismiss now sends the case into discovery.


U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, today announced legislation intended to provide better mental-health care by revamping the federal government's "chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies."

The bill is designed to increase access to care, improve research, reduce the stigma of mental illness and integrate physical- and mental-health care.

"Sadly, patients end up in the criminal-justice system or on the streets because services are not available," Mr. Murphy, who has a doctorate in psychology, said in a statement.

Families, he said, "struggle to find care for loved ones. …

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