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Glanz v. Vernick
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
756 F. Supp. 632 (1991)
Raymond Vadnais (plaintiff) sought treatment from Dr. David Vernick (defendant) for severe ear pain. Vernick prescribed antibiotics and ear drops, but the pain continued. Vernick then diagnosed Vadnais with a perforated eardrum and recommended surgery to repair it. However, when Vernick learned that Vadnais was HIV positive, Vernick refused to perform the surgery. Vadnais continued using the antibiotics and ear drops for months, but they did not fix the problem or stop his pain. Vadnais sought treatment from a different doctor, Dr. Yale Berry, who did not know that Vadnais was HIV positive. Nine months after Vadnais first sought treatment for his pain, Berry performed the surgery, which finally repaired the perforated eardrum. Vadnais sued Vernick, alleging that being HIV positive was a disability and that Vernick’s refusal to perform the surgery was unlawful discrimination against Vadnais based on his disability in violation of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Vadnais later died, and the lawsuit was carried on by Rosalie Glanz on his behalf. Vernick filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Vadnais could not prove a claim under the Rehabilitation Act. One of Vernick’s arguments was that being HIV positive meant that Vadnais was not otherwise qualified for elective ear surgery. Berry testified that he would not have operated on Vadnais if he had known that Vadnais had AIDS. Vadnais claimed that although he was HIV positive, he did not have AIDS at the time he sought treatment from Vernick. Vernick failed to present any evidence that there were no reasonable accommodations that would have allowed him to safely operate on Vadnais.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mazzone, J.)
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