Department of Justice Files Lawsuit Against Vero Beach, Fla. Doctor and Medical Practice for Retaliating Against Deaf Couple
The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hal Brown and Primary Care of the Treasure Coast of Vero Beach, Fla. (PCTC), alleging that the doctor and the medical practice violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against Susan and James Liese, who are deaf. The complaint alleges that the doctor and the practice violated the ADA by retaliating against Mr. and Mrs. Liese because they engaged in activities protected under the act. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Ft. Pierce.
According to the Justice Department’s complaint, the doctor and medical practice terminated Mr. and Mrs. Liese as patients because the couple pursued ADA claims against a hospital for not providing effective communication during an emergency surgery. The hospital is located next door to and affiliated with PCTC. The complaint alleges that the Lieses threatened the hospital with an ADA suit based on failure to provide sign language interpreter services, and upon learning of the lawsuit, PCTC and Dr. Brown, who was the Liese’s primary doctor at PCTC, immediately terminated the Lieses as patients.
“The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the provisions of the ADA that protect an individual from retaliation when he or she opposes disability discrimination and prohibit interference with an individual in the exercise of rights granted by the ADA,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “A person cannot be terminated as a patient because he or she asserts the right to effective communication at a hospital.”
The enforcement of the ADA is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The ADA prohibits retaliation against an individual because they oppose an act that is unlawful under the ADA and because they made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the ADA. The ADA also makes it unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with any individual exercising their rights protected by the ADA. The department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the ADA, which authorizes the Attorney General to investigate allegations of discrimination based upon disability. Visit www.justice.gov/crt and www.ada.gov to learn more about the ADA and other laws enforced by the Civil Rights Division.