COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A therapy dog is at the center of a lawsuit against the Ohio State University.
A student and Chi Omega sorority member, sued the university after it told her, she and her dog had to move out of her sorority house. Madeleine Entine said she needs her therapy dog – Cory – to help with her anxiety and panic attacks according to court records.
The dog lives with her at the Chi Omega sorority house. Another student who also lives in the same house, says she’s allergic to Cory and he’s causing her Crohn’s Disease symptoms to flare. Both students took their concerns to Ohio State University officials where it was decided that the assistance dog had to go.
In court documents, Entine says living in other campus housing is not a reasonable accommodation.
Living in the Chi Omega house is important to Maddie. It has different qualities from university-owned housing. For example, it facilitates close social relationships between sorority members and provides additional and different living spaces and dining experiences not available in campus housing. Further, Maddie has attained the position of Chi Omega chapter vice president. This position requires the holder to reside in the Chi Omega house. Thus, a housing option outside of the Chi Omega house is not a reasonable equivalent to living in the house.
Stated in the court records, university officials said that neither of the student’s disabilities could be a factor in this decision, the university “may not pick or choose which disability is more severe.” The decision was based on who signed the lease first.
Entine sued under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and now the case is being heard by a federal judge.
NBC4 reached out to the Ohio State University for comment and a spokesperson said “we don’t comment on pending litigation.”
In court documents, the university says the conflict is “rather straightforward.”
Plaintiff and her housemate have been offered reasonable accommodations that are incompatible. As a result, Mr. Lissner evaluated both students, their respective disabilities and accompanying documentation, and attempted to craft a solution that would allow both students the ability to remain in the sorority house. However, after completing the interactive process with both students, Mr. Lissner determined that co-habitation was unworkable due to the nature of the students’ disabilities and the physical space and structure of the house. Mr. Lissner chose not to weigh the disabilities, but instead to find a neutral, non-discriminatory method to resolve the conflict. Mr. Lissner requested copies of the students’ leases and determined that the student who signed her lease second in time – here, Plaintiff – had the opportunity to either forgo her assistance animal, or relocate to other student housing. Plaintiff chose a third option and rebuked Mr. Lissner’s process as well as his repeated requests to follow basic guidelines with respect to her dog and the other student’s disability.
Entine is seeking a temporary restraining order to allow her to remain in the house while legal proceedings proceed.