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Attorney sues condo developer over accessibility

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A resident of the 3Mass condo development who uses an electric wheelchair is suing the developers for failing to provide handicap accessibility to a rooftop terrace overlooking downtown Indianapolis.

Katrina Gossett, an attorney at Baker & Daniels, had already put down her deposit when she learned that the terrace, offering impressive skyline views, could not be accessed without climbing at least two flights of stairs, the lawsuit says. Gossett agreed to buy the condo in 2008 and moved into her fourth-floor unit in January.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on Sept. 29, asks for Halakar Properties Inc., Keystone Construction Corp. and Schmidt Associates Inc. to bring the building into compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act. All three companies are based in Indianapolis. Gossett also is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees.

An attorney for the developers, J. Thomas Vetne of Jones Obenchain of South Bend, said they are investigating the complaint and preparing a response. An official with Halakar said company policy prohibits comment on pending litigation.

The developers have marketed the terrace as an amenity for the building. It is maintained by homeowners' association fees that Gossett is required to pay, the suit says.

"Defendants have collectively failed to design and construct public-use areas that are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, which is discriminatory conduct in violation of the Fair Housing Act," says the suit, brought by Indianapolis-based DeLaney & DeLaney.

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