WASHINGTON (March 31, 2011) – Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is pleased to announce that the firm, in conjunction with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, the National Association of the Deaf, and the U.S. Department of Justice, has reached a settlement with Inova Health System in a significant pro bono matter. The agreement ensures that the hospital will provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to patients, and patients’ companions, who are deaf or hard of hearing, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
The settlement, submitted with a proposed consent decree on March 28, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, was prompted by a complaint from a deaf couple regarding communications during the birth and subsequent treatment of their infant son, who was born with serious heart defects.
In early 2010, at the request of the Washington Lawyers Committee and the National Association of the Deaf, Sutherland agreed to represent the couple on a pro bono basis.
"Sutherland is proud of its long tradition and commitment to pro bono, including its long standing relationship with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights," said Mark Wasserman, Sutherland's Managing Partner.
"Sutherland's partnership with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and the National Association of the Deaf allowed us to effectively combine resources from the private and non-profit sectors to assist the plaintiffs in this case," said Sutherland partner Lewis Wiener, who was supported by associates Wilson Barmeyer and Caroline Crenshaw.
The consent decree, which was approved by the district court on March 30, 2011, requires Inova Health System to pay $95,000 to aggrieved individuals and a $25,000 civil penalty; to provide training to hospital staff on the requirements of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act; and to adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are promptly provided to patients or companions who are deaf or hard of hearing. Inova Health System has also separately agreed to pay a total of $25,000 to two other aggrieved individuals.
Mr. Wiener noted “the Consent Decree agreed to by the parties puts Inova at the forefront of providing effective communication with the deaf community."
SUTHERLAND ASBILL & BRENNAN LLP
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is a law firm with global reach known for solving challenging business problems and resolving sophisticated legal issues for many of the world’s largest companies. Founded in 1924, the firm handles matters throughout the United States and worldwide. Seven major practice areas—corporate, energy and environmental, financial services, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, and tax—provide the framework for an extensive range of focus areas, allowing Sutherland attorneys to serve a diverse client base that ranges from small and medium-sized start-up businesses to a significant number of Fortune 100 companies. For more information, please visit sutherland.com.
ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND URBAN AFFAIRS
The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address issues of discrimination and entrenched poverty. Since its founding, the Committee has handled more than 5,000 cases on behalf of individuals and advocacy organizations in the areas of equal employment, fair housing, public accommodations, public education, asylum and refugee rights, and disability rights. For more information about the Committee, see washlaw.org. The Committee can be reached at 202.319.1000.
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, congregate on issues important to them, and represent its interests at the national level. These beliefs remain true to this day, with American Sign Language as a core value. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more. For more information, please visit nad.org.