- This matter was initiated by a complaint, dated July 2, 1998, filed with the United States Department of Justice ("the Department"), against Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company, ("Penn Treaty"), One Sarasota Tower, Two North Tamiami Trail, Suite 200, Sarasota, FL. 34236. The complaint was investigated by the Department under the authority granted by section 308 (b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188. The complainant, XXXX, is deaf.
XXXX alleges that on May 8, 1998, Penn Treaty sent her a letter rejecting her request for nursing home insurance coverage based solely on the fact that she is deaf.
- Penn Treaty denies that it acted unlawfully with respect to Ms. XXXX.
- The parties have agreed to settle these matters without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of Penn Treaty's actions.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America and Penn Treaty.
- This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability and/or fault on the part of Penn Treaty. The parties enter into this settlement agreement in the interests of securing compliance by voluntary means, and agree to the following:
II. Title III Coverage
- Title III of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12182; 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.201.
- Penn Treaty is an insurance office, operated by a private entity, providing a service to the general public, and is, therefore, a place of public accommodation as defined in section 301(7)(B) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12181, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.104.
- The ADA requires that places of public accommodation, including service providers, ensure effective communication with persons with hearing impairments unless doing so would constitute a fundamental alteration of the service provided or an undue burden. 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.303. Effective communication must be ensured through the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services, such as qualified sign language interpreters. 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.303 (b).
- The complainant, XXX XXX, is an individual with a disability, as defined by the ADA and its implementing regulation. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12102; 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.104.
III. Actions to be Taken by Penn Treaty
- Penn Treaty agrees to take the following actions within 30 days of the date of this Agreement:
- Penn Treaty shall establish and put in place a policy for communicating with deaf and other hearing impaired persons, and agrees that such policy shall be distributed to the underwriting department and to all present and future insurance agents.
- Penn Treaty agrees to reopen its underwriting of Ms. XXX's application, to complete the underwriting investigation including an interview of Ms. XXX, and to reconsider her application for insurance based on the additional underwriting investigation.
- Upon completion of the actions required by paragraph 10, Penn Treaty shall notify the Department of Justice that it has fulfilled its obligations and shall provide the Department of Justice with a copy of Penn Treaty's policy statement, verification that the policy has been distributed to all appropriate employees, and the final results of Ms. XXX application for nursing home insurance coverage.
- Under section 308(b)(1)(B) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188(b)(1)(B), the Attorney General is authorized to bring a civil action under title III in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or where a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the Agreement as set forth above, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit under title III in this matter.
- The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any provision thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal district court, following written notice to Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company, 3440 Lehigh Street, Allentown, PA. 18103, of the possible violation and a period of twenty (20) days in which Penn Treaty has the opportunity to cure the first alleged violation. The Attorney General is authorized to seek civil penalties pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188(b)(2)(C). For any subsequent alleged violations of this Agreement, the Department may institute a civil action against Penn Treaty without any waiting period for Penn Treaty to cure the alleged violation.
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person by the Department or Penn Treaty upon request.
- This Agreement shall become effective as of 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 shall be enforceable. This Agreement is limited to the facts as set forth herein, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law. This Agreement does not affect Penn Treaty's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
- Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- The signers of this Agreement represent that they are authorized to bind the parties to the terms of this Agreement.
For the United States:
Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
By:_____________________________ Date: _________________
John L. Wodatch, Chief
Renee Wohlenhaus, Deputy Chief
Susan B. Reilly, Supervisory Attorney
Charles Harvey, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company
By: ____________________________________ Date: _________
Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company
3440 Lehigh Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18103