Deaf woman says hospital did not provide interpreter, sues

Lawsuit says lack of sign language interpreter kept pair from communicating effectively during emergency

March 24, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

A deaf Maryland woman and her mother, who is also deaf, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, alleging that the hospital refused to provide — or pay for — a sign language interpreter when the younger woman experienced a medical emergency in late 2009.

"Plaintiffs requested but were denied sign language interpreter services and were thus unable to communicate effectively with Defendant's medical personnel during critical periods," reads the 11-page civil suit filed by Jennifer Simmons of Frederick and Susanna Paulay, who lives in New York.

The suit claims that the hospital discriminated against Simmons based on her disability, violating U.S. law. It seeks unspecified damages. In a statement, St. Joseph said it has "appropriate policies and procedures in place to address patient requests for interpreters. We have not yet been served with this lawsuit and so cannot address the specifics of this suit."

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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