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  • Victory for Emotional Support Animals-3rd Circuit holds Fair Housing Claim survives death of dog owner in Virgin Islands

    Appellants Barbara Walters and Judith Kromenhoek
    filed these civil rights actions under the Fair Housing Act.
    Walters and Kromenhoek sought accommodations for their
    disabilities in the form of emotional support animals, which
    were not permitted under the rules of their condominium
    association. They allege violations of their right to a
    reasonable accommodation of their disabilities, 42 U.S.C.
    § 3604(f)(3)(B), and interference with the exercise of their
    fair housing rights, 42 U.S.C. § 3617. They also allege
    supplemental territorial claims.
    Among other issues, these cases raise the question
    whether a Fair Housing Act claim survives the death of a
    party. We hold that the District Court improperly answered
    this question by applying a limited gap-filler statute,
    42 U.S.C. § 1988(a), and, in turn, territorial law. We
    conclude that the survival of claims under the Fair Housing
    Act is not governed by Section 1988(a), but rather by federal
    common law, under which a Fair Housing Act claim survives
    the death of a party. Accordingly, we will reverse the District
    Court’s grant of summary judgment against Walters executrix.