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Mansell v. Memorial Medical Center

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 30, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Memorial Medical Center's (Memorial) Motion to Dismiss Counts IV and V of Plaintiffs' Complaint (d/e 6) (Motion). The parties have consented to proceed before this Court. Consent to the Exercise of Jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge entered August 12, 2019 (d/e 12). Memorial moves to dismiss the claims of Plaintiffs Kathy Mansell and Ken Mansell for failure to state a claim and for lack of statutory standing. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.


         For purposes of the Motion, the Court assumes that all well-pleaded factual allegations in the Complaint are true and draws all inference in favor of the Plaintiffs. See Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff Robert Mansell, Sr. (Robert Mansell) is deaf. Robert Mansell is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). Robert Mansell has limited ability to read and write English; he has a very limited ability to lip read, and he can articulate a few basic words in English. Plaintiffs Kathy Mansell and Ken Mansell are not deaf. Kathy Mansell is Robert Mansell's ex-wife and friend. Ken Mansell is Robert Mansell's brother. Kathy Mansell is fluent in ASL. Ken Mansell has some ability to communicate in ASL but has no formal training. Kathy Mansell and Ken Mansell have no knowledge of medical terminology or ASL signs for medical terminology. Complaint, ¶¶ 3-5.

         The Plaintiffs live in Jacksonville, Illinois. On Saturday, November 24, 2018, at 2:20 a.m., Robert Mansell drove himself to the emergency room at Passavant Hospital (Passavant) in Jacksonville, Illinois, because he had chest pains. Robert Mansell had a history of congestive heart failure, colon cancer, anxiety, and depression. Passavant had an ASL interpreter on-site to interpret for Robert Mansell and the doctors. The doctors at Passavant transferred Robert Mansell to Memorial in Springfield, Illinois, by ambulance. The Court takes judicial notice that Passavant is approximately 40 miles from Memorial by motor vehicle. At Robert Mansell's request, a doctor at Passavant contacted Memorial's staff to request an on-site ASL interpreter to be present at Memorial when Robert Mansell arrived. Complaint, ¶ 13.

         On Saturday, November 24, 2018, at approximately 6:43 a.m., Robert Mansell arrived at Memorial. He remained at Memorial until he was discharged on Monday, November 26, 2018. When Robert Mansell arrived, no ASL interpreter was present. He wrote a note asking for an ASL interpreter. The nurse brought Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) equipment to the examination room instead. The nurse did use the VRI equipment in his room. The nurse may have not known how to use the VRI equipment or the equipment may have not functioned properly. See Complaint, ¶¶ 15, 23.

         On Saturday, November 24, 2018, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Kathy Mansell arrived at Memorial. Kathy Mansell asked if Robert Mansell would be provided with an on-site ASL interpreter. She was told that Memorial did not provide on-site ASL interpreting. Robert Mansell was not in an emergency involving an imminent threat and did not ask for Kathy Mansell to interpret. The staff asked Kathy Mansell to interpret. She reluctantly agreed. Kathy Mansell told Memorial staff that she was not a licensed, qualified interpreter and did not know medical terminology. Complaint, ¶ 17. On November 24, 2018, at 11:03 a.m., the Memorial Social Services nurse recorded that Robert Mansell's preferred method of communication was ASL. Complaint, ¶ 16.

         Robert Mansell underwent a series of tests at Memorial. Kathy Mansell interpreted for Robert Mansell because he had no other means to communicate with Memorial doctors and staff. The tests showed that Robert Mansell had atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricle rate. Complaint, ¶ 18.

         Robert Mansell was also identified as a fall risk and ordered not to get out of bed. During the day on November 24, 2018, Kathy Mansell used the call button to ask for assistance for Robert Mansell to get out of bed and walk to the restroom. Robert Mansell had no other means to communicate this request. Memorial staff delayed responding, so Kathy Mansell helped Robert Mansell to the bathroom. Complaint, ¶ 21.

         Kathy Mansell left Memorial at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 24, 2018. Robert Mansell had no interpreter to assist him in communicating with Memorial doctors and staff for the rest of the day or overnight. Robert Mansell's son-in-law called to request an interpreter. None was provided. Complaint, ¶ 22.

         On Sunday morning November 25, 2018, Plaintiff Ken Mansell came to see his brother Robert Mansell at Memorial. Ken stayed until Robert Mansell was discharged on Monday November 26, 2018. Ken Mansell asked about an on-site ASL interpreter. Memorial staff told Ken Mansell that Memorial used VRI interpretation. The VRI equipment, however, was not functioning properly. Ken Mansell alleges that he was forced to interpret for Robert Mansell. Ken Mansell told staff that he only knew the basics of ASL and was not fluent and was not certified as an ASL interpreter. Complaint, ¶ 23.

         On November 25, 2018, Memorial staff ran tests on Robert Mansell without the presence of Ken Mansell or any other person who could interpret. On Monday, November 26, 2018, a cardiologist from Memorial refused to use the VRI equipment to communicate with Robert Mansell. The cardiologist spoke to Ken Mansell about Robert Mansell's condition. On November 26, 2018 at approximately 4:30 p.m., Robert Mansell was discharged from Memorial. Robert Mansell received written information about his diagnosis, treatment, and recommended follow-up. He did not understand the written information. Complaint, ¶¶ 24-25.

         Robert Mansell alleges that he intends to return to Memorial for follow-up care because Passavant cannot provide the type of needed care and because his cardiologist is located in Springfield. Complaint, ¶ 27.

         Based on these allegations, Robert Mansell brings claims against Memorial for injunctive relief and damages for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12189; the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 704; and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U.S.C. § 18116. Complaint, Counts I-III.

         Kathy Mansell and Ken Mansell each brings a claim for damages against Memorial for violation of the RA, 29 U.S.C. § 704 (Counts IV and V). Kathy Mansell alleges the following violations of her rights under the RA:

32. At all relevant times herein, Memorial knew that Plaintiff had federally protected rights to effective communication, and Defendant's acts and omissions alleged herein violated and continue to violate the Rehabilitation Act and its implementing regulations in one or more or all of the following manners as defendant has discriminated against Plaintiff by:
A. Denying her the opportunity for the full and equal enjoyment of Memorial's goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.
B. Denying her the opportunity to participate in or benefit from Memorial's goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.
C. Offering or affording her services that are not equal to those services afforded to other individuals who are companions to patients who are not deaf.
D. Failing to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, which are necessary to afford Memorial's goods, services and facilities to Plaintiff where such modifications would not fundamentally alter the nature of its goods, services or facilities.
E. Intentionally requiring Plaintiff to interpret for Robert, when Defendant knew that Plaintiff was a family member and not a licensed interpreter, and Robert did not ...

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