• ADA and RA Claim Reversed. Lower Court Applied Wrong Standard for Effective Communication When Considering Plaintiffs Did Not Prove Communication Difficulties Resulted in Misdiagnosis, Incorrect Treatment Or Other Adverse Medical Consequences.
  • July 11, 2017 | Author: Andrea L. Diederich
  • Law Firm: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Orlando Office
  • Silva v. Baptist Health S. Fla., Inc., 856 F.3d 824 (11th Cir. Fla. May 8, 2017)


    The plaintiffs, two profoundly deaf patients, alleged that on numerous occasions they presented at the defendants’ hospitals but could not communicate effectively with hospital staff because of the absence of certain auxiliary aids or services. They brought a lawsuit under Title III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) for discrimination against disabled persons. On appeal of an order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the Eleventh Circuit found that the district court erred in requiring the plaintiffs to prove that any communication difficulties resulted in a misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment or other adverse medical consequence. The proper inquiry under the ADA and RA was simply to examine whether the defendants provided the kind of auxiliary aid necessary to ensure that deaf patients were not impaired in exchanging medically relevant information with hospital staff. The court noted that it is not dispositive that the patients got the same ultimate treatment that would have been obtained even if they were not deaf.