- This matter was initiated by a complaint against Heidi Goldberg, M.D. (hereinafter "Goldberg") filed under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§12181-89, and the Title III regulation, 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and subsequently transferred to the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, the jurisdiction in which the relevant conduct took place. The complaint alleges that Goldberg failed to provide a sign language interpreter for a patient who is deaf.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America and Goldberg. In the interest of securing compliance by voluntary means, the parties have entered into this Agreement and agree to the terms set forth below.
- By signing this Agreement, Goldberg does not admit that her policies, practices, or procedures violate in any respect the ADA or its implementing regulation.
- The parties agree that Title III of the ADA applies to Goldberg because her medical practice is a public accommodation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ï½§12181(7)(F) and 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.104.
- The subject of this Agreement is the provision by Goldberg of auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- The term "qualified sign language interpreter" as used here in shall mean: an interpreter who is able to interpret competently, accurately, and impartially for a patient or companion who is deaf or hearing impaired, both receptively and expressively, using any specialized terminology necessary for effective communication in a medical setting. Someone who had only a rudimentary familiarity with sign language or finger spelling is not a qualified sign language interpreter under this Agreement. Likewise, someone who is fluent in sign language but who does not possess the ability to process spoken communication into the proper signs or to observe someone else signing and change their signed or fingerspelled communication into spoken words is not a qualified sign language interpreter. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§ï½§ 35.104 and 36.104.
- Goldberg agrees to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services. Auxiliary aids and services include, but are not limited to, qualified sign language interpreters, written materials, and note pad and pen. Goldberg may not be required to take steps if it can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, advantages, or accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden. Any claim that the provision of auxiliary aids and services constitutes an undue burden shall be measured against the overall financial resources of her medical practice rather than the income generated from an individual office visit.
- Goldberg acknowledges that qualified sign language interpreters may be needed for effective communication with deaf persons for any appointment in which the required communication includes a diagnosis, the taking of a medical history, a test or examination requiring a series of verbal questions or answers, and other appointments involving all but very brief, simple communications. Goldberg may not require a family member or other associate of the patient to provide interpreter services. Similarly, Goldberg may not require any patient to communicate with her in writing. The parties recognize that many individuals with hearing impairments are not proficient in written English, and requiring them to communicate in writing may not be effective.
- Goldberg agrees to maintain a list of qualified sign language interpreters and/or agencies providing interpreter services for the purpose of fulfilling a request for interpreter services. An interpreter will be provided, upon forty-eight (48) hour notice, for a regularly scheduled appointment. In cases where an individual requests an interpreter for an appointment with less than forty-eight (48) hours notice, Goldberg shall make every effort to secure interpreting services within the specified time frame.
- Beginning on the effective date of this Agreement, Goldberg will instruct all office personnel to comply with the provisions of this Agreement. Goldberg will incorporate these instructions into a written policy which will be posted in a central location in the office.
- Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Goldberg will read a text on communicating with deaf and hearing-impaired patients and will discuss issues related to such communication with the community education coordinator for her local Deaf Service Center. Within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Goldberg shall conduct a training seminar for all personnel to address deaf awareness issues, the practical application of the ADA, and the specific provisions of this Agreement. Each new person as hired shall receive similar training.
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it, may be made available to any person. Goldberg will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person on request.
- Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
- This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth in the first paragraph, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect Goldberg's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of Title III of the ADA.
- This Agreement is governed by the laws of the United States. The parties agree that the exclusive jurisdiction and venue for any dispute arising between the parties under this Agreement will be the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
For Hedi Golberg, M.D.:
HEIDI GOLDBERG, M.D.
9555 Seminole Blvd.
Seminole, Florida 33772
Counsel for Heidi Goldberg, M.D.
SALVATOR J. CALABRESE, ESQ.
Calabrese & Calabrese, LLP
Ten Bank Street
White Plains, NY 10606
For the United States of America:
DONNA A. BUCELLA
United States Attorney
ANITA M. CREAM
Assistant U. S. Attorney
Middle District of Florida
United States Attorney's Office
80 N. Hughey Ave., Rm. 201
Orlando, Florida 32801
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 202-17M-103
Updated August 6, 2015