Twelve deaf individuals filed a complaint in Federal District
Court in Arizona on March 13 against Banner
Health, which operates hospitals, surgery centers and urgent
care centers in Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Nebraska,
Nevada and Wyoming. (Cook et al v. Banner Health, U.S.
Dist. Ct., Arizona, Filed 03/13/2017, Case #
Allegation: Failure to Provide ASL Interpreters and
The complaint alleges that Banner Health "discriminated
against plaintiffs by failing to provide on-site ASL interpreters
when necessary, by providing malfunctioning Video Remote
Interpreting (VRI) systems, by failing to adequately train its
personnel in the use of VRI systems, and by requiring the
plaintiffs to reply upon other means of communication, including
passing of notes and/or lip reading, that are inadequate for the
medical treatment required by the Plaintiffs and the services
required by their companions."
Claims: ADA, Rehabilitation Act, §1557 of ACA and Common
The complaint alleges that Banner Health's failure to
provide ALS interpreters and other communication assistance
violates: (1) The anti-discrimination clause of Title III of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); (2) Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act which prohibits discrimination against disabled
persons by entities receiving federal funds such as Medicaid
reimbursements; (3) the prohibitions on both disability and limited
English proficiency discrimination within Section 1557 of the
Affordable Care Act (ACA), which also prohibits discrimination
under health programs or activities receiving federal funds; (4)
the Arizonans with Disabilities Act; (5) the common law prohibition
against "battery" as the alleged lack of effective
communication resulted in a lack of informed consent for medical
The complaint seeks a range of relief and remedies including an
Order to require Banner Health to adopt policies and procedures to
provide a range of assistive communication tools including a
high-quality VRI system, provide staff qualified to operate the VRI
system, enhance availability of American Sign Language
interpreters, train staff in legal requirements, and award
applicable actual, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
Trend: Dramatic Increase in Accessibility and Communication
Multiple similar lawsuits by deaf or hearing impaired
individuals have been filed against hospitals around the country in
recent weeks. The increase in litigation may also be linked to the
hundreds of lawsuits filed in the past two years related to
allegedly "inaccessible" websites in violation of the
ADA. For more information, read "
Healthcare Sector is Newest Target for Website Accessibility
The volume of technology and communication related ADA
litigation will continue to grow throughout 2017 and the issue will
continue to receive media and public attention.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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