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Alexander v. Kujok

158 F. Supp. 3d 1012 (2016)

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Alexander v. Kujok

United States District Court for the Eastern District of California

158 F. Supp. 3d 1012 (2016)

Facts

Kelly Alexander and Donald Porter (plaintiffs) were profoundly deaf and used American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. Alexander and Porter were forced to seek new primary physicians when their previous primary physician retired. Alexander was referred to Dr. Kujok (defendant), who was unwilling to provide interpreting services. Alexander then sought care from Dr. Debruin (defendant), who did not provide an interpreter. Debruin told Alexander that she could communicate well and there was no need for an interpreter. Debruin insisted that Alexander communicate about technical terms in writing, and Alexander left his office. Alexander sought care from Dr. Karma (defendant), who promised an interpreter but did not provide one. Karma misunderstood Alexander and failed to note her allergy to iodine. Karma referred Alexander to podiatrists Dr. Del Zotto and Dr. Larsen (defendants), but their office refused to provide ASL interpreting services. Porter was referred to Dr. Martinez (defendant), who provided an ASL interpreter at the initial intake visit. Porter claimed that Martinez grabbed Porter and demanded that he lipread. After three appointments, Martinez stopped providing an ASL interpreter. Martinez’s staff members hung up on Porter repeatedly when a relay operator service explained that they were calling for a deaf person. Martinez’s staff members would not communicate with Porter by text message and Porter had to drive to the office in person to make appointments. Alexander heard about Porter’s experience and canceled her initial intake appointment with Martinez to avoid the same discriminatory treatment. Alexander and Porter sued these physicians under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related state laws based on the physicians’ failure to accommodate the disability of profound deafness by providing ASL interpreters. The physicians moved to dismiss the claims for lack of standing because Alexander and Porter had no intent to return for further treatment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (England, C.J.)

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