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Landlord to Tenant: You Can't Live Here in a Hospital Bed

The tenant won the lawsuit, which says the landlord tried to have her put in a nursing home and tried to trick the court into evicting her.

INDIANAPOLIS--A landlord who tried to kick out a tenant who was sick and confined to a hospital bed will now have to pay over $200,000. Carolyn Smitley discriminated against Carolyn McGuffin, said a judge, who ordered Smitley and the Smitley Family Trust to pay the money.

Without permission

In 2015, McGuffin lived in an apartment owned by Smitley. The lawsuit said Smitley repeatedly entered McGuffin’s apartment without notice or permission and demanded McGuffin vacate her home. 

Smitley made explicit discriminatory statements to Ms. McGuffin, such as, “I don’t want you living here in a hospital bed”; that Ms. McGuffin should be “in a facility” or “in a nursing home” and that she was “too sick to live here", said a news release from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. 

Another try at getting rid of her

Then, according to court papers, Smitley tried to have McGuffin put in a nursing home. After that, Smitley refused to take McGuffin's rent and tried to have her evicted for not paying.

While they were investigating, the Fair Housing Center also found a large “Adults Only” sign on the exterior of the building, indicating that families with children were not welcome, which discriminates on the basis of familial status under the federal Fair Housing Act.

Since the lawsuit was filed, McGuffin has passed away.

She endured stress

“I desperately wish Ms. McGuffin was alive today to know that she won in this difficult fight for her fair housing rights,” said Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center. “Having worked with her for several months, I know the stress she endured due to these discriminatory acts that further emphasized the problem for so many in our community in finding safe, affordable, accessible housing free from unlawful discrimination.”

In addition to compensatory damages to the FHCCI and McGuffin’s estate,the judge awarded punitive damages because “the evidence presented at the hearing established that the defendants consciously and intentionally discriminated against [Ms.] McGuffin or, at a minimum, acted with reckless disregard of [Ms.] McGuffin’s rights.” 

PHOTO: Thinkstock Hermara

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