Lambda Legal AIDS Project Docket
EmploymentEqual Employment Opportunity Commission and Larry Conway v. 1348 Division Corporation d/b/a The Pub (Federal Court, Indiana)
DISCOVERY PROCEEDING. Larry Conway was a bartender at The Pub, a restaurant and bar in Evansville, Indiana. Conway told his employer he was HIV-positive after receiving medical treatment for a cut he got from a broken glass while at work. The bar owner then revealed Conway's HIV status to his co-workers and fired him. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought suit against The Pub under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Lambda, in conjunction with the Indiana HIV Advocacy Program and the Indianapolis HIV/AIDS Legal Project, has joined the suit, filing a complaint on Conway's behalf. In addition to claims under the ADA, our complaint adds claims of infliction of emotional distress and violation of Conway's right to privacy, and a claim for violation of the Indiana communicable disease confidentiality law. Discovery is currently proceeding with a trial scheduled for June 1996. Barry Taylor is Lambda's attorney on this case.
Ann Howard's Apricots v. Commission On Human Rights and Opportunities and John Doe (Connecticut)
Health Care WorkersJohn Doe v. Georgetown University Medical Center (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC], Washington, D.C.)
NEW CASE! PRELIMINARY SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS COMMENCED. Dr. Doe, a respected cardiologist at Georgetown University Medical Center, learned in 1987 that he had HIV, and informed his supervisor the following day. One day later, the medical center ordered Doe to cease all patient contact. Later he was permitted to see patients again, but he remained barred from performing any of the lab work or procedures that were the heart of his practice. Later, while working in the medical center's AIDS clinic, Doe was permitted to attend only to HIV-infected patients. Ultimately, Doe planned and received funding for a research program for AIDS treatments, but even in implementing his own research program, he suffered discrimination. Stress undermined his health and he went on disability. Then when he later expressed an ability and willingness to return to work, he was unable to secure a response from the medical center. In early 1995, Doe filed a complaint with the District of Columbia Department of Human Rights, and it was only at a mediation meeting on March 6, 1995 that he was given a letter notifying him that his position had been terminated as of October 1994. Preliminary settlement negotiations were commenced in early August 1995. Catherine Hanssens is Lambda's attorney on the case, together with cooperating attorney Mickey Wheatley.
Mauro v. Borgess Medical Center (Federal Court, Michigan)
Access to Health Care Health Insurance BenefitsAugust Gonzales, as Administrator of the Estate of Timothy Bourgeois, Deceased v. Garner Fast Foods, Inc. (Federal Court, Georgia)
NEW CASE! APPELLATE BRIEFS FILED. AWAITING ORAL ARGUMENT. Timothy Bourgeois was fired from his position with Garner Fast Foods when Garner discovered Bourgeois had HIV. Garner then imposed a $40,000 life-time maximum cap on his health care claims through COBRA, a federal law created to ensure continuity in health benefits for former employees who received insurance through their employment. August Gonzales, administrator of the estate of Timothy Bourgeois, has claimed that Garner's actions are in violation of the Employees' Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A federal district court dismissed Gonzales' claims, which Gonzales then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The issue under consideration is whether the discriminatory practices of employers providing health insurance can be challenged under the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in employment and related benefits, by an employee who receives health insurance coverage through COBRA. Catherine Hanssens prepared Lambda's amicus brief in support of Gonzales on behalf of the American Medical Association, the American Foundation For AIDS Research, the American Public Health Association, and the Gay Men's Health Crisis.
Craig Miller v. Dallas Avionics, Inc. (Texas)
Phillip Bernstein, Personal Representative of the Estate of Jeffrey Bernstein, v. CapitalCare, Inc. (Federal Court, Virginia)
Donna Cole Winters v. Costco Wholesale Corp. (U.S. Supreme Court)
Standards of Care Cdc Aids DefinitionS.P. et al. v. Sullivan (Federal Court, New York)
SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE. This lawsuit challenges the Social Security Administration's (SSA) reliance on the Centers for Disease Control's grossly inadequate definition of AIDS for awarding Social Security disability benefits. The SSA regulations challenged here granted disability benefits automatically to anyone with HIV whose doctor certifies that they had one of the opportunistic infections recognized as HIV-related by the CDC. However, the CDC definition did not include many of the diseases which manifest in women, drug users and low-income people. Benefits applicants who were disabled by these non-recognized diseases not only had to provide medical evidence regarding their HIV status but also had to satisfy an additional and very difficult "functional" standard to prove they could not function normally in the work world. In July 1993, the SSA announced new regulations governing disability benefits for people with HIV which address virtually all of the concerns raised by our lawsuit. The new regulations added the predominant manifestations of HIV in women, drug users, and low income people as criteria by which HIV-infected individuals can qualify for disability benefits. A settlement conference with the Department of Health and Human Services before Southern District of New York Judge Cedarbaum is scheduled for mid-September. Terry McGovern of the HIV Law Project is lead counsel on the case. Other participants include MFY Legal Services, Brooklyn Legal Services, Cardozo Law School's Bet Tzedek Legal Services, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Suzanne Goldberg is Lambda's attorney on the case.
Health Care FacilitiesPorter v. Axelrod (New York)
NO CHANGE. This lawsuit challenges New York State's standards of care for residential health care facilities for persons with HIV/AIDS. Because the state greatly weakened its guidelines at the behest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which obtained state approval to operate two HIV residential facilities, the standards eventually adopted do not provide adequate assurance of good HIV and gynecological services, nor do they require a pledge of non-discrimination. The filing of this case successfully barred the discriminatory issuance of the permits, perhaps making continuation of the lawsuit unnecessary. Lambda is co-counsel with Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts and the Coalition for the Homeless. Evan Wolfson is handling the case for Lambda.
Right to PrivacyAnderson v. Romero (Federal Court, Illinois)
APPEAL PENDING. In this case, a prison inmate's HIV status was inappropriately revealed by prison officials, who subjected him to discriminatory treatment and medically unnecessary "precautions." The inmate, Dennis Anderson, who has since died, sued Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials for violations of his right to privacy and other constitutional rights. IDOC filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, asserting that because the guards' actions were within the scope of their employment, and because the rights of HIV-positive prisoners were not clearly established, the corrections defendants are immune from suit. The motion was denied, and IDOC filed an appeal in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On appeal, the parties filed briefs on the issue of whether IDOC officials should have known that their conduct violated Anderson's constitutional rights, thus defeating their claims of immunity from suit. Oral argument is scheduled for September 22, 1995. Barry Taylor, with the assistance of Patricia Logue and Catherine Hanssens, prepared Lambda's amicus brief. Anderson is represented by the law firm of Jenner & Block.
Right to DieTimothy Quill, M.D. et al. v. Dennis Vacco (Federal Court, New York)
AWAITING DECISION. This case challenges New York's criminalization of physician-assisted suicide. Lambda joined six other organizations and the daughter of one of the deceased plaintiffs in this appeal of the federal district court's ruling that a mentally competent and terminally ill person facing severe suffering has no constitutional right to assisted suicide. In December 1994, the court upheld the New York State laws that make it a crime to aid a person attempting to commit suicide. The court refused to find such a right implicit in U.S. Supreme Court decisions on reproductive choice and the right to refuse medical treatment, and rejected the argument that the New York laws violate guarantees of equal protection by distinguishing between a decision to end one's life through suicide and the refusal of medical treatment necessary to preserve life. Coordination of amicus participation, and drafting of the brief, was handled by Cary LaCheen of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and cooperating attorney Claudia Hammerman of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, with assistance from Catherine Hanssens.
Compassion in Dying v. State of Washington (Federal Court, Washington)
Criminal LawState of Mississippi v. Marvin McClendon (Mississippi)
NO CHANGE. APPEAL PENDING. In October, 1994, two gay men, Robert Walters and Joseph Shoemake, were shot and killed in Laurel, Mississippi. Upon arrest, Marvin McClendon confessed to the murders, claiming that the victims sought to sexually assault him. The court permitted the defense to conduct post-mortem HIV tests on the victims, upon defense counsel's insistence that positive results would be "equivalent to [the victims] carrying a loaded gun." Lambda filed a brief in support of the Jones County District Attorney's pre-trial motion to exclude any evidence related to the victims' HIV status or sexual orientation. At the February 1995 trial, the judge ruled that the HIV status of the victims was relevant, and permitted defense counsel to introduce as evidence the test results of the two men. Despite this, the jury rejected the justifiable homicide defense and found the defendant guilty on two counts of murder. The defendant moved for a new trial, and intends to pursue an appeal of the convictions if the motion is denied. Lambda is prepared to file an amicus brief if the defendant raises the victims' sexual orientation or HIV serostatus as relevant to the issue of guilt and self-defense. Catherine Hanssens and Barry Taylor are the Lambda attorneys on this case.
United States of America v. Carlo Streat (Federal Court, Ohio)
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