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State Parkway

(Above) State Parkway, a 160-unit condominium near the north end of State Street and about one block from Lake Shore Drive.

Federal lawsuit against Gold Coast condo may continue, judge rules

Among other complaints, deaf unit owner says he was cited for a “pet violation” for having a service dog.

11-Nov-15 – A deaf unit owner’s lawsuit against a Gold Coast condominium association – accused of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation – may continue, a federal judge has ruled.

Michael Novak is suing The State Parkway Condominium Association, its property management company, Lieberman Management Services, Inc., and its former building manager, Donna Weber. His lawsuit, filed on December 12, 2013, includes several charges but two of the charges, say the defendants, had already been decided in their favor, and so they asked United States District Judge Edmond Chang to settle the case without a trial.

Novak says that in 2010, the condo association, located at 1445 North State Parkway, called a hearing over noise complaints against him, but refused to provide a real-time transcription service he requested so that he could follow along. The association said they would provide the service but only if Novak paid for it.

State Parkway He also claims a service dog belonging to him and his wife, Christina Novak, who is also deaf, was not recognized by the association as a service dog – and he was, in fact, given a citation for a “pet violation.” It’s happened three times and his fines – for the service dog, two noise complaints, and a “standards of behavior” fine – total $2,175.

They were all, Michael says, in retaliation for filing a housing complaint against the association in 2007.

“We were never given an opportunity to be heard,” he says. “At the time of the fines, five of the six complaints were not even part of the association’s rules and regulations. Only the final fine, the January 2010 noise [complaint], was part of the rules and regulations.”

Both issues were included in a complaint the Novaks filed in 2010 with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. The state interviewed Michael, the president of the condo board, and reviewed eight documents – and in 2011 ruled there was no substantial evidence to support the complaint.

Defendants say that should have settled the matter but Judge Chang says the issues were not resolved in a proper judicial forum.

Calling it a “long lasting and highly contentious case,” Judge Chang said “the material facts are not really in dispute” and ruled against the condo association on October 29. He denied their request and urged both parties to “focus on completing discovery in an expeditious manner.”

Deaf unit owner is own attorney in district court

Novak was born deaf but it was not detected until he was almost four years old.

“Nine different doctors had told my parents I was mentally retarded,” says Novak (right). “One doctor pounded his fist on his desk when my parents suggested I couldn’t hear. I looked up when I felt the vibration and he told my parents my hearing was fine.”

Michael Novak

A Certified Public Accountant, Novak has looked at his condo association’s books and says legal expenses totaling $407,662 have been charged to unit owners in assessments. He says it is part of “a massive amount of fraud” he has uncovered.

He is suing on his behalf, up against attorneys from Litchfield Cavo, a firm with 200 attorneys in 14 offices across the nation, including 55 in Chicago.

At a status hearing on Monday, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert gave parties in the federal lawsuit until February 1 to be caught up with document requests.