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Latham Partner's Lawyer Cites 'Dog Racism' in Condo Dispute

, The Am Law Daily

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A breach of contract or dog racism? It depends on who you ask. Michelle Kelban-Carteron, co-chair of the real estate practice at Latham & Watkins, has retained a high-powered New York real estate lawyer to press the cause of her five-year-old pit bull, Luna.

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  • Nora Constance Marino, Esq.

    Breedism.... It‘s a shame, because pit bulls are wonderful.

  • Susan Clark

    To provide a slight correction on the nuances of the Americans With Disabilities Act regulations concerning "service dogs". They do not have to be certified by anyone to be legally classified as a service dog. The reason is that the Federal government recognized that most handicapped people are poor and they cannot afford to buy a pre-trained service dog or to pay a dog trainer to train the dog to do a service. Instead in enforcing the ADA the Federal government recognizes that handicapped and disabled people train their own service dogs. There is no nationally-recognized organization which "certifies" service dogs because the law doesn‘t require any such certification. The fact that the Kelban-Carterons got their dog "certified" recently is meaningless, because in 49 states there is no such thing as "certification" of a service dog in terms of making claims that a condo association must comply with the ADA service dog regulations. I say 49 states because I don‘t know the law in New York. About 2 years ago some idiot in the Texas Legislature tried to impose a law ‘regulating‘ service dogs despite Federal law to the contrary. That effort fell flat because the Federal government had preempted the field in terms of regulation of service dogs. I am fairly certain that if the ADA service dog regulations trump State law that they will also trump an HOA Board policy or a contract signed before a resident became physically injured and thereby entitled to the benefits of a service dog under Federal law. If it was my homeowners association wasting money suing a service dog owner, and having to bear the burden of proof, I would be very angry at my HOA Board because I consider it a giant waste of HOA members‘ money given the presumptions in favor of a disabled person having the RIGHT to have a service dog under Federal law. There‘s always a lawyer lurking around who will take an unmeritorious case if s/he can bill at an hourly rate, and the world is full of stupid affluent clients who are willing to pay them because the clients are not sophisticated enough to know they‘re being taken for a ride. Is to the 2 dogs in question, what humans don‘t realize is that very often the alleged "victim" dog has insulted or irritated the dog who is the alleged attacker in the moments right before the incident occurs. Small dogs tend to be both brave and territorial while humans see them as being the victims of attacks by larger dogs. The reality is that small dogs often attack large dogs without realizing that the larger dog will defend itself. There‘s probably at least a 50/50 chance the Havanese attacked the pit bull. I for one would not want to spend money on legal fees bearing the burden of proof that was NOT the case.

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