Background and Jurisdiction
1. The parties to this agreement are the United States of America and Dr. Thomas A. Brown.
2. This matter was initiated on October 16, 1998, by a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice ("Department") by [REDACTED], against Dr. Thomas A. Brown ("Respondent") alleging that he refused to accept her as a patient because she has a hearing impairment. The complaint was investigated by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa under the authority granted by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12188.
3. The complaint alleges that Respondent violated Title III of the ADA by refusing to accept [REDACTED] as a patient because she has a hearing impairment.
4. Respondent is a doctor in Des Moines, Iowa, and owns and operates a place of public accommodation as defined in section 301(7)(F) of the ADA and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
5. The ADA applies to the Respondent's medical practice because the practice is a public accommodation as defined in section 301(7) of the ADA and section 36.104 of the Department's implementing regulation. 42 U.S.C. § 12181; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
6. Ms. [REDACTED] alleges the following: On or about September 9, 1998, Ms. [REDACTED] called Dr. Brown's office to request an interpreter for a scheduled appointment for medical services on September 23, 1998. During this telephone call on September 9, 1998, she provided the name of Jean Hatch, who is the Referral Coordinator of Deaf Services Commission of Iowa's Interpreting Services. Ms. Hatch subsequently called Dr. Brown's office about securing the services of an interpreter. Laura Allen from Dr. Brown's office left a voice mail message on Ms. Hatch's telephone on September 11, 1998, canceling the September 23,1998 appointment. Ms. Hatch called Ms. Allen to inquire as to the reason the appointment was canceled and was told by Ms. Allen that Dr. Brown does not have time to "take on a disabled patient."
7. The Respondent denies Ms. [REDACTED]'s allegations.
8. However, the parties desire to settle this matter without resorting to litigation and have, therefore, entered into this Settlement Agreement.
The parties agree as follows:
9. The Attorney General of the United States is authorized, pursuant to section 308(b)(1)(B) of the ADA, to bring a civil action under Title III, enforcing the ADA in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the terms of this agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation of this complaint or from filing civil suit under Title III of the ADA pursuant to the facts alleged in this complaint, so long as Respondent carries out his obligations as set forth in this agreement.
10. The Respondent agrees to immediately adopt, upon the effective date of this agreement, a nondiscrimination policy, provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, to ensure individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have access to medical services.
11. The Respondent further agrees to: (a) no later than ten (10) days after the effective date of this agreement, notify every member of his staff in writing that it is the policy of Respondent's office to treat patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, and not to refuse to treat any individual solely because he or she is deaf or hard of hearing or solely on the basis of disability, and provide each member of his staff with a copy of the nondiscrimination policy referenced in paragraph 10; and (b) ensure that new staff members learn the nondiscrimination policy described in paragraph 10, by notifying such individuals in writing, at the outset of employment, that it is Respondent's policy to treat patients who are deaf or hard of hearing and not refuse to treat a patient solely on the basis of his or her hearing impairment or other disability, and immediately provide a new employee with a copy of the nondiscrimination policy; and (c) train current employees, within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, on when to provide sign language interpreters or other auxiliary aids or services and the logistics in providing assistance, and provide same or comparable training for new employees, within ten (10) days of employment in the office.
12. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof shall not be construed as a waiver of its right to do so with regard to any other provisions of this Agreement.
13. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at anytime. In the event that the Respondent fails to comply in a timely fashion with any requirement of this Agreement without
obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department as to a temporary modification of the relevant terms of the Agreement, the Department may take the position that such failure shall constitute a subsequent violation, within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C)(ii), and Respondent shall correct this noncompliance within sixty (60) days of being notified of the noncompliance. The Department agrees to provide written notice to the Respondent of any such alleged noncompliance, and the parties agree to refrain from the filing of any lawsuit premised upon such noncompliance if it is corrected within the sixty (60) day cure period.
14. If Respondent fails to take required corrective action described in paragraph 13 of this Agreement, without prior written approval of the Department, it shall be liable to the Department for a civil penalty of no less than one thousand dollars ($1000) for each required action not taken, in addition to any appropriate compensatory damages caused by Respondent's failure to comply. If the parties dispute liability in any such situation, and cannot resolve the dispute, they may appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction to determine liability. In addition, the Department will seek enforcement of this Agreement under ADA. The parties to this action and no one else shall have standing to seek enforcement of this Agreement.
15. This document is a public agreement. A copy of this document, or any information concerning its contents, may be made available to any person.
16. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below, and will be in effect for five (5) years,
after which time its provisions shall be terminated unless a Court determines that, based on findings of noncompliance, it is necessary to extend any of its requirements, in which case those requirements may be extended subject to the requirements of equity.
17. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Respondent on the matters raised herein. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth in paragraphs 1 through 8, above, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or of any other Federal
Law. This Agreement does not affect Respondent's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
For the United States:
Don C. Nickerson
United States Attorney
Inga Bumbary-Langston [REDACTED]
Assistant United States Attorney Complainant
110 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50311
Roger Stetson Dr. Thomas A. Brown
Belin Lamson McCormick Zumbach Respondent
666 Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-3989
Signed this day of April,1999. >