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Frederick Couple Files Federal Lawsuit Against Colorado-based Housing Giant Century Communities

August 7, 2018

Nina Lindstrom waters plants on the back porch of her Frederick home on Monday. Lindstrom, who uses a wheelchair, has limited access to areas around her home and property as the home is not set up for wheelchair use. She and her husband are suing a homebuilder for denying requests they made to alter a home they intended to buy to make it accessible for Lindstrom.

A Frederick couple on Monday filed a civil lawsuit in Denver federal court naming publicly traded housing developer Century Communities and the Dacono neighborhood it is building as defendants.

The couple, Robert and Nina Lindstrom, in a seven-page complaint alleged Greenwood Village-based Century and the Autumn Valley Ranch development in Dacono wrongly refused to accommodate the couple’s request for a more wheelchair-accessible interior design on a home that had yet to be built.

“We take these allegations very seriously, so we’re going to go into very detailed information gathering on this specific issue, but we have no comment beyond that for tonight,” said Andy Boian, an executive for a Denver public relations firm representing Century, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CCS.

The Lindstroms — who are represented in the suit by Amy Robertson of the nonprofit Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center — claim Century and Autumn Valley violated the Federal Housing Amendment Act by declining to modify a standard floor plan to include wider doorways and a roll-in shower, among other changes.

Nina Lindstrom, 67, uses a wheelchair because she was paralyzed in June 2017 when she suffered a spinal cord injury in a fall at her Alabama home as she was preparing to move to Colorado, according to the complaint.

The couple had planned on moving to the state for several years to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren before Lindstrom’s accident.

Following several months of rehabilitation in a Georgia hospital, Lindstrom and her husband resumed their Colorado house hunting and were attracted to the Autumn Valley community “because it was near family and because construction on the homes had not yet commenced, giving the Lindstroms -— or so they thought — the opportunity to adjust the floorplan to be accessible to Ms. Lindstrom,” a press release from Robertson’s firm said.

The complaint said the couple in October met with a Century representative who told them the Autumn Valley development’s single-story floorplan could be modified to meet Nina Lindstrom’s requests, which were installing ramps in the garage and at the front door; building a roll-in shower in lieu of a walk-in shower; making doors wider at the entrances to the home, the master bedroom and bathroom; and eliminating a built-in bench by the laundry room and the cabinets under bathroom and kitchen sinks.

The Lindstroms offered to pay Century for any extra costs of meeting the requests, the complaint said.

The following day, however, the representative who had said Century would incorporate Lindstrom’s needs into the home’s construction called the couple back and left a voicemail informing them the company would not fulfill the requests, the complaint said.

The Fair Housing Amendment Act protects developers of single-family homes — which the Lindstroms were trying to build in Dacono — from having to comply with some of the law’s more stringent regulations for multi-family apartment homes, but Robertson contends such developers still have to make “reasonable accommodations” to prospective buyers of single-family homes.

“Because construction had not started, the modest adjustments the Lindstroms requested were eminently reasonable,” Robertson said in a statement.

The couple was living in a condo temporarily while considering building in Dacono, but after being told the new home’s layout could not be altered to accommodate Lindstrom, they bought an already-built home in Frederick that “was out of their price-range” and “incurred costs far above the costs that would have been necessary to accommodate accessibility into the Autumn Valley Ranch floor plan,” the complaint said.

The couple has paid to have the Frederick home retrofitted with doorway expansions to allow room for Lindstrom’s wheelchair to pass, the complaint said.

Improvements are still needed to increase Lindstrom’s accessibility to parts of the Frederick house, she said, such as the front door and backyard, neither of which she has used while living there.

“When we moved out here, we were planning on building a home. We figured that would be the most comfortable way for me to live the rest of my life,” Lindstrom said in an interview. “If they just would have built me the home that they said they would, I wouldn’t have had this trouble.”

A specific monetary amount of damage was not specified in the suit’s claims for relief, but it asks the court to declare Century in violation of the Fair Housing Amendment Act and enter an injunction ordering the company to “cease discrimination on the basis of disability against homebuyers with disabilities and to comply with the Fair Housing Amendment Act.”

It also asks the court to award compensatory and punitive damages to the Lindstroms in addition to their attorney fees.

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz .

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