Ascension hospital claims exemption from anti-discrimination law

Milwaukee-based Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital is contending that its Catholic affiliation exempts it from a former patient's lawsuit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Four things to know:

1. In 2014, former patient Linda Reed sued Ascension Columbia St. Mary's, accusing the hospital of discrimination based on her disability. Ms. Reed has a neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia, which causes involuntary facial movements that can interfere with speech.

2. In her lawsuit, Ms. Reed accused Ascension Columbia St. Mary's of taking away a Dynavox device from her, which helps her speak, for hours at a time. She alleged this caused miscommunication and mistreatment, according to the Journal Sentinel.

3. Late U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa dismissed the case after Ascension Columbia St. Mary's claimed immunity from the lawsuit due to religious exemptions to the ADA, and also argued Ms. Reed's disability did not affect its care decisions.

4. However, a federal appeals court recently decided more information is needed in the case, and reinstated Ms. Reed's lawsuit.

"Allowing a last‐minute defense that introduces such new factual and legal issues after discovery has closed raises the costs of litigation and allows the party that was at least negligent in failing to plead its defense to take unfair advantage of its opposing party," the court said, according to the report.

For the full article, click here.

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