Retired Maine lobsterman challenges landlord's no-guns policy in court

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 4:35 PM

By Dave Sherwood

AUGUSTA, Maine (Reuters) - A retired Maine lobsterman believes a rule against possessing a gun in the affordable housing complex where he lives has forced him to choose between losing his home or forfeiting his constitutional right to bear arms, his lawyer said Wednesday.

In a lawsuit filed this week in Maine Superior Court, Harvey Lembo, a 67-year-old former volunteer policeman who lives in Rockland, along the New England state's eastern coast, contends that Stanford Management, of Portland, Maine, presented him an ultimatum: Give up his firearm or face eviction.

"Mr. Lembo is a man with a substantial disability and of limited means," said Lembo's Boston-based attorney, Patrick Strawbridge. "He shouldn't have to make this kind of choice."

Lembo, who is confined to a motorized wheelchair, suffers from diabetes, heart disease, hearing impairment and chronic pain, according to court filings.

In August, Lembo's apartment, which is subsidized for low-income tenants under a program by the Maine State Housing Authority, was burglarized for the fifth time in six years.

Lembo, who believed thieves were targeting his home in order to steal prescription pain medications, had bought a handgun to defend himself and his home, his lawyer said.

Shortly after, Lembo shot a man he said had broken into his apartment, thwarting an alleged burglary. The alleged burglar was wounded and fled.

The man was later arrested and charged with burglary. He is still awaiting trial.

"I was scared he was going to come at me. I don't want to shoot anybody," Lembo told police, according to court papers.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects Americans' right to possess firearms.

Following the incident, Stanford Management threatened to evict Lembo because he had kept a firearm "beneath his pillow," and had "fired a shot in self-defense," according to the lawsuit.

The apartment complex's rules prohibit the use or possession of firearms on the premises, the company stated in a letter to Lembo.

Stanford Management did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

(Editing by Scott Malone and G Crosse)