Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dying man in a fight with condominium

Article Courtesy of FOX 4 -- WFTX-TV Fort Myers
By Kelli Stegeman
Published April 12, 2013

 FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - A Fort Myers Beach veteran fighting a deadly illness is desperate. He says his condo association is threatening to punish him for using a critical tool that's helping keep him alive.
He wants to know why they won't work with him after a year-long battle, even with a doctor's note.
Four in Your Corner's Kelli Stegeman fought to get him answers. 
Moving is critical for Robert McLaughlin. He has ALS, also known as Lou Gherig's disease, which breaks down neurons in the brain and weakens muscles. 
Robert recently got a letter from his condo's board at Shamron Beach Condominiums on Fort Myers Beach that could take away his independence and put his safety in jeopardy.
His weekly physical therapy helps to keep his ALS at bay. It's not easy, but he's coping.
"Last June I found that I can no longer walk safely with my cane and I started looking for devices to help me walk," McLaughlin said. 
He can't grip regular walkers, so, he's turned to a simple shopping cart. It's his lifeline, and his condominium is trying to pull the plug.
"Having the cart and being able to move around from your apartment down to your parking space, what does it give you?" reporter Kelli Stegeman asked. "It gives me a life!" responded McLaughlin. 
The letter from the board highlights a condo rule; no storage in common areas like walkways.
"The management company thinks I should bring the cart over the threshold and into this apartment," said McLaughlin.
"And why don't you do that?" Stegeman asked. 
"Because I can't do it," he replied. "I don't have the strength or the maneuverability, stability to get that cart over the threshold. Seems small, but I can't lift it."
The violation is $100 a day if he refuses to comply with management. Robert says those fines would start May 10th. 
One board member Stegeman tracked down off camera told her bending the rules for one would mean bending the rules for all. 
The board president never returned Stegeman's phone calls. 
She did reach the management company, Alliant Property, that told her the company had no comment. Stegeman left Robert's name and number on his behalf. 
"What am I going to do? I'm going to use this cart as long as I can, or I'm going to be house bound," McLaughlin said.
He does have some help in all of this. Total Wine donated the cart and the Florida Human Rights Commission has expressed interest to help. 
A condominium hearing on the matter is set for May 9th.