SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit against a Sioux Falls landlord, alleging he refused to let a tenant with a fractured leg move back into an apartment over concerns that a wheelchair could damage the carpet.
The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls on behalf of Daniel Loring, seeks unspecified damages from Calvin L. Salem and the Alice B. Salem Family Trust.
Loring was using a walker in August 2013 when he leased one of the apartment building's rental units. After Loring fractured his left tibia in January 2014, he spent three months recovering in a skilled nursing facility while using a wheelchair.
The government alleges that after visiting Loring at the skilled nursing facility, Salem wrote a February 2014 letter to the facility saying that Loring was not capable of living independently, that he should be in a nursing home and that he could not return to the apartment using a wheelchair because it could damage the carpet.
The lawsuit alleges that Salem's actions violated Loring's rights under the Fair Housing Act.
"The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in reckless disregard of the rights of Mr. Loring," the lawsuit said.
A phone message left for Salem on Monday was not immediately returned.
The suit said that Loring continued paying the rent for the apartment through January, February and March in 2014 while he lived in the skilled nursing facility. In mid-March, Loring let a friend stay as a temporary guest in the apartment as the man recovered from outpatient surgery.
The lawsuit said Salem initiated eviction proceedings less than a week later, saying that Loring allowed "unauthorized occupants to reside in the leased premises."
The suit also claims that Loring lost an opportunity to share a lease at another apartment in August 2014 after Salem sent a negative reference to his potential landlord.
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