March 23, 2018
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 2:16-cv-05145) District
Judge: Honorable Juan R. Sánchez
D. Lurie [ARGUED] Rosenthal Lurie & Broudy Counsel for
Christopher M. Curci [ARGUED] Freeman Mathis & Gary
Counsel for Appellees
Before: HARDIMAN, BIBAS, and ROTH, Circuit Judges
disabled tenant has a right to a reasonable housing
accommodation that she needs to use and enjoy her home. But
if her landlord offers her an alternative that likewise
satisfies that need, she has no right to demand the
particular accommodation that she wants.
Vorchheimer needs ready access to her rolling walker and
wanted to leave it in her building's lobby. The building
managers refused, but offered her four other ways to store
and access her walker. She sued under the Fair Housing
Amendments Act, claiming that her preferred accommodation was
necessary to equally enjoy her home. The District Court
dismissed her complaint, holding that she had not plausibly
affirm. Necessity is a demanding legal standard. For a
housing accommodation to be "necessary" under the
Act, it must be required for that person to achieve equal
housing opportunity, taking into account the alternatives on
Vorchheimer's own complaint, including the exhibits
attached to it, forecloses her claim. Leaving the walker in
the lobby was her preference. But given the four alternatives
offered-which she herself pleaded-she did not plausibly plead
that it was necessary.
accept as true the well-pleaded allegations in the amended
complaint, including those in the exhibits attached to it:
Vorchheimer suffers from pulmonary hypertension (high blood
pressure) and other disabilities. As a result, she must use a
rolling walker to get around. She owned a condominium in The
Philadelphian and had a reserved parking space in front of
the building. Vorchheimer would use her walker to get from
her condo to the lobby and then use her cane from the lobby
to her car. She could neither lift her walker, nor fold it,
nor put it into her car. Instead, she began leaving her
walker in The Philadelphian's lobby when she left.
day, Vorchheimer left her walker in a corner of the lobby. A
building staffer took the walker and stored it in a room
behind the concierge desk. The next day, The
Philadelphian's general manager, Frank Bonom, emailed
Vorchheimer and asked her to give her walker to the
front-desk staffer whenever she left. She refused.
year-long quarrel ensued, culminating in this case.
Vorchheimer kept leaving her walker in the lobby. The
Philadelphian's staff kept putting it into storage until
she returned and asked for it. And Vorchheimer kept insisting
that putting it away was unacceptable. Because of her
disabilities, she asserted, she needed her walker to be
available in the lobby upon her return so that she could
independently retrieve it.
The Philadelphian refused to let Vorchheimer leave her walker
in the lobby, it offered her four alternative accommodations.
Am. Compl. ¶ 33 & Ex. 8. First, she could have staff
store the walker and then return it to her in the lobby-she
could either phone ahead to have it ready for her, or sit on
a bench to await its retrieval. Second, she could have a
staffer deliver the walker to her car before she got out of
it. Third, she could have the doorman load the walker into
and take it out of her car's trunk. Or finally, she could
start parking in the building's indoor valet-parking
garage, where she could leave her walker near the valet
station. But Vorchheimer rejected all these alternatives and
insisted that she needed to leave her walker in the lobby.
support her demand, Vorchheimer gave the building's
managers several letters from her doctors. In the first two,
her doctors detailed her medical issues and wrote that
"[h]er use of a rolling walker is a medical
necessity." Id. Exs. 4 & 7. In the third,
her doctor reiterated that she needs to "have ready
access to her walker or scooter" and that she should
"not [be] required to stand [a]waiting assistance for
any period of time." Id. Ex. 9. The doctor
noted management's offer to bring the walker to
Vorchheimer's car. But he considered it "preferable
to simply have her walker readily available to her in the
building lobby." Id. This way, she could
"maintain[ ] her independence" and not risk having
to stand and wait for someone else to get the walker.
side would budge. So Vorchheimer sued Bonom, The
Philadelphian Owners' Association, and the
Association's then-president, June Idzal. She alleged
that the defendants were violating 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)
by refusing to let her leave her walker in The
Philadelphian's lobby so she could retrieve it by
herself. And she attached to her complaint her doctors'
letters and her correspondence with the building's
District Court dismissed Vorchheimer's complaint. It
acknowledged that "keeping her equipment in the lobby
may be Plaintiff['s] preferred accommodation." App.
2 n.1. But she had not plausibly alleged that it was
necessary. App. 3 n.2. So, the Court held,
"Defendants' storage . . . and prompt retrieval of
[her walker] when she returns does not deny Plaintiff a full
and equal opportunity to enjoy her housing."
Id. Vorchheimer's amended complaint added
nothing material, so the District Court dismissed again based
on lack of necessity. App. 5 n.1. Vorchheimer then filed this
appeal and later moved out of The Philadelphian.
Standard of Review
review de novo the dismissal of a complaint for failure to
state a claim. Foglia v. Renal Ventures Mgmt., LLC,
754 F.3d 153, 154 n.1 (3d Cir. 2014). In doing so, we
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. We accept all factual allegations as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in her favor. Id. To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain enough
facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). In determining whether Vorchheimer's
claim is plausible, we consider not only her complaint, but
also the exhibits she attached to it, including her
doctors' letters and The Philadelphian's
correspondence proposing alternative accommodations. See
Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010).
To Be "Necessary," A Housing Accommodation Must Be
Required To Achieve Equal Housing Opportunity in Light of the
Fair Housing Amendments Act forbids housing discrimination
against the disabled. One of its key provisions bans
"discriminat[ing] against any person in the terms,
conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or
in the provision of services or facilities in connection with
such dwelling, because of [that person's] handicap."
42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2), (f)(2)(A).
 a refusal to make
 reasonable accommodations in rules, policies,