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Obese woman wins human rights fight for parking spot Add to ...

A five-year-long feud over a parking spot has ended with a human-rights victory and $10,000 settlement for a morbidly obese Quebec woman.

Marise Myrand won a favourable ruling from the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, which said her condo association discriminated against her by denying her a parking spot closer to her building entrance. She not only won the preferred spot, but all 35 of her neighbours will have to contribute to her $10,000 award.

Ms. Myrand, who weighs 389 lbs., suffers from extensive health problems, including heart and respiratory difficulties, reduced mobility and diabetes. She uses an oxygen tank and has a handicapped sticker on her car.

In 2005, she began trying to trade her condo parking spot for one closer to the entrance, but that spot was occupied by a neighbour, Jocelyne Nolet.

Ms. Myrand's attempts to negotiate with both Ms. Nolet and the Ste.-Marie-de-Beauce condo association failed; the dispute turned nasty, and the association even accused Ms. Myrand of using her handicap for her personal benefit.

She turned to the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

The tribunal ruled that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her handicap; her neighbours used "insulting and degrading language" against her and "violated the inclusive values promoted by our society." By ruling against a condo association, the decision sets a precedent, a human rights lawyer said.

"When you live in condo co-ownership, you live in a micro-society. You have obligations," said Pierre-Yves Bourdeau, a lawyer with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, who represented Ms. Myrand. "You're obliged to help people with physical disabilities."

The lawyer representing the condo association, Gaétan Mathieu, said he may appeal the ruling. He said that Ms. Nolet, is in her 60s and has a dislocated shoulder, so the tribunal was setting up a hierarchy of handicaps by favouring Ms. Myrand.

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