Mediation Fails. The Lawsuit Goes On.

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Fort Myers Beach Town Attorney John Herin told the town council Monday that, after four hours of mediation with Estero Boulevard resident Eddie Rood over his ADA lawsuit against the town, the mediation was very unsuccessful.

Rood filed an American with Disabilities lawsuit against the town for refusing his request for a permit to build a dune walkover to get to the beach from his home. Rood and Kroemer say they lost access to the beach as the Critical Wildlife Area has grown behind their homes.

Rood filed the ADA lawsuit against the town last year. The suit claims: “As a result of the town’s acts and omissions, Rood has suffered humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience, restraint on his liberty, harm to his reputation, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages.”

The lawsuit points out that back in 2011, Rood sought a variance from the town that would allow him to construct a front stairway into his home that would include a landing, wider steps, and a longer stairway with a less steep pitch, all of which he says were necessary to accommodate his physical limitations. Rood met with Town officials in the building department, and Rood discussed with them the fact that his physical limitations regarding his surgery and his knee and back problems prevented him from safely negotiating the front stairway, as constructed. Town officials administratively granted Rood his requested variance.

The walkover both Rood and Kroemer are hoping to eventually build is 298 feet long and ends before a dune. Herin told the council that part of the mediation disagreement had to do with the length. He said the proposed walkover ends in the middle and does not go completely to the beach. To that, Rood and Kroemer said, OK we’ll build the longer walkover if that’s what you want. To go over the remaining dune and sand would extend the walkover to over 400 feet.

Herin also said giving the public access to the walkover was discussed in mediation and that is a non-starter for Rood and Kroemer. They are willing to allow their neighbors access to the beach using their walkover, but they do not want the liability of the entire public having access.

Herin said the town’s outside council, which is part of the town’s League of Cities membership plans to move forward to file summary judgement. He says that outside council has indicated to him they are confident they will succeed. If you listened to Beach Talk Radio this past Saturday, it’s clear Rood thinks otherwise.

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