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January 3, 2003


From: DRC - 03 Jan 2003

Contact: Linda Royster
Executive Director, DRC
(202) 234-7550 ext. 5

January 2, 2003 -- The Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington (DRC) and a deaf patient, Garth Alexander, filed suit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Columbia against Fort Washington Medical Center and the offices of an Oxon Hill physician. The plaintiffs ask the Court to order the hospital and doctor’s offices to provide sign language interpreters to deaf patients to ensure that they understand medical communications. The complaint also requests damages for Mr. Alexander and the DRC.

The complaint alleges that in April of 2002, Mr. Alexander, who was a patient of Dr. Othman Baban and the Washington Potency and Urology Center, had surgery at Fort Washington Medical Center. Although he requested sign language interpreter services for his pre-operative and post-operative medical appointments, as well as for the surgery, no interpreter services were provided at any juncture by either the hospital or the physician’s offices. As a result, Mr. Alexander did not understand the medical communications and was not able to communicate his need for pain medications or to understand important information about his medical treatment.

“It is shocking that these medical providers have refused to provide effective communication with a deaf patient over twenty-five years after the passage of the federal law creating this obligation,” stated Linda Royster, Executive Director of the DRC, in announcing this lawsuit. "Medical providers must understand that providing access to medical care for people with disabilities is a basic and critical requirement of the ADA and other federal laws.”

Mr. Alexander is a resident of Oxon Hill, Maryland. He was born deaf and relies on American Sign Language to communicate.

Fort Washington Medical Center is located in Oxon Hill, Maryland, as is the Washington Potency and Urology Center and the offices of Dr. Othman Baban.

The Disability Rights Council, or DRC, is a non-profit membership organization. Its members are persons with disabilities and others who are interested in equal rights, equal access and equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. The DRC pursues its principal goal - eliminating discrimination against individuals with disabilities - through public education, counseling, conciliation, litigation, and research, including lawsuits related to provision of sign language interpreters at hospitals, with police departments, and at other places of public accommodation.

The DRC and Mr. Alexander are represented by John Corrado and Brett Walter of the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, and Elaine Gardner of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.