GREENVILLE — A Greenville man says he is being discriminated against by not being allowed to have a service dog live with him to help him with his disability.
However, an attorney for Maplewood Square Apartments says 34-year-old JohnMichael Molinares has refused to pay his rent for nine months and should be evicted.
A jury trial will be scheduled in June after Maplewood Square Apartments, owned by Hathaway Properties LLC, filed a civil suit in 64B District Court against Molinares, who countered with his own complaint.
According to court documents, Molinares signed a lease with Maplewood Square Apartments on Aug. 23, 2012. He agreed to pay $500 in rent per month for an apartment at 1416 Elmwood Drive.
Molinares, who says he has complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)/reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) and is on public assistance, had a dog named Sparty when he moved into his new apartment. Molinares said a leasing agent visited his apartment just four days after he signed the lease and informed him his dog would have to go or Molinares would have to go.
According to the lease, “Maplewood Square Apartments does not allow pets. This also includes any of your guests’ pets as well. No animals allowed inside the building with the exception of service animals.”
Molinares told The Daily News he had his dog Sparty euthanized in August 2012 because of the visit from the leasing agent and also because of Sparty’s health issues. Molinares said he had a drug infusion surgically implanted in November 2012 to help with his disability. He said he applied for a new dog from Paws With A Cause in December 2012.
“I demand a jury trial because I am being discriminated against about being disabled based on my disability,” Molinares stated in a court document. “They have also failed to provide reasonable accommodations.
At a 64B District Court hearing on Friday, Maplewood Square Apartments attorney William Van Eck said Molinares owes $4,598 in rent after not paying rent since last September. Van Eck also said Molinares never applied to fill out the proper paperwork to prove his dog was a service animal.
Van Eck requested an escrow account be created in which Molinares must deposit his rent money until the dispute is resolved. Judge Donald Hemingsen approved the request and also arranged for jury selection to begin in June to hear the case.
Also at Friday’s court hearing, Hemingsen asked Molinares why the court office received a telephone call from someone claiming to be from WOOD TV8, but the telephone number was traced back to Molinares.
Molinares said he had no idea how that happened.
Molinares does not yet have an attorney. The judge recommended he hire one, and soon.
A self-described “civil rights activist,” Molinares has been in the news before.
According to a previous report by the Ionia Sentinel-Standard, Molinares alleged that while being put into a cell at the Ionia County Jail in May 2006, a corrections officer stepped on his foot and pushed him, breaking his foot.
An out-of-court settlement between Ionia County and Molinares was reached nearly three years later in December 2009. Molinares had sought more than $75,000 from the county, but the amount of the settlement was reported to be $50,000.