Summer 2011 Newsletter: From DOJ's Website
Department of Justice Settles ADA Lawsuit with Virginia’s Inova Health System
The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Inova Health System to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing in the provision of medical services. The agreement, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, resolves a complaint that Inova failed to provide sign language interpreters to an expectant mother and others who are deaf and need interpreters to communicate effectively with health care providers.
The department’s lawsuit, filed with a consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleged that Inova Health System violated the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreter services, to deaf individuals at Inova Fairfax Hospital. According to the complaint the hospital failed to provide sign language interpreter services, resulting in individuals who were denied the benefit of effective communication with hospital staff, the opportunity to effectively participate in medical treatment decisions, and the full benefit of health care services provided by Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Property Owner and Manager Pay Record $1.25 Million to Settle Fair Housing Lawsuit
In December 2010, Warren Properties, Inc., Warren Village (Mobile) Limited Partnership, and Frank R. Warren entered into a consent decree with the Department resolving a Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuit alleging that the defendants failed to grant a request by a tenant with paraplegia to move from a second-floor apartment to one on the ground floor in an apartment complex in Mobile, Alabama. The suit also alleged that the tenant suffered severe injuries as a result of falling down the stairs on two different occasions.
Under the consent decree the defendants must pay $1,195,000 to compensate the tenant, along with an additional $55,000 in fees and costs to the government. This is the largest settlement ever obtained by the Department in an individual housing discrimination case. In addition, the defendants will adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, attend fair housing training, and hire a reasonable accommodation facilitator to handle tenants’ requests for accommodations in 85 properties managed by Warren Properties, Inc., which contain 11,000 rental units in fifteen states.
Famous New York Metropolitan Opera Makes Accessibility Improvements
On January 13, 2011, the Department of Justice simultaneously filed a lawsuit and a consent decree in the federal court in New York, New York, resolving claims against the Metropolitan Opera (the Met), a not-for-profit performing arts organization founded in New York City in 1883 that has been a tenant of the opera house in Lincoln Center since 1966. During the investigation, the Met installed additional wheelchair and companion seating; renovated its restrooms, concession stands, and signage to make them accessible; installed additional accessible drinking fountains; installed a handrail along the wall from the orchestra level elevators to the stairwells leading to the restrooms; and eliminated access barriers in three of its six elevators.
The consent decree, which was approved by the federal court in Manhattan the same day it was filed, acknowledges the Met’s cooperation during the investigation. It requires the Met to eliminate barriers in its remaining three elevators; maintain the wheelchair and companion seating that was added; revise its policy for selling unsold wheelchair and companion seats to the general public; and revise its emergency evacuation procedures to ensure that all individuals with disabilities receive necessary information and assistance.
|The DOJ Disability Rights Section works to achieve equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the United States by implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Further information about the Department of Justice is available online.|