Deaf Patients File ADA Suit Against New Hampshire Hospital

Last Friday, three patients and their families filed a civil rights lawsuit against Monadnock Community Hospital (MCH) for its alleged failure to provide equal communication access to deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. The District of New Hampshire complaint claims that the hospital, located in an “isolated” part of the state, has deprived deaf and hard-of-hearing patients of the accommodations they are entitled to under state and federal law for decades, despite past lawsuits and settlements.

The complaint contends that MCH, a non-profit Peterborough, New Hampshire, medical facility, is a “critical access point hospital.” It also remarks that the hospital is one that the state’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community “try to avoid, at almost[] all cost.”

The filing notes that in 2013, MCH settled with the Department of Justice after a deaf patient complained that MCH failed to provide her with appropriate communication access, required her to use inadequate or inappropriate auxiliary aids, and used her minor daughter as an interpreter while she was a patient. MCH reportedly agreed to establish an effective communication program for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients as part of the settlement. However, the plaintiffs contend, “[w]hatever changes MCH may have implemented to end its quarrel with the Federal Government, it is clear… that MCH has failed to continue them.”

The complaint recounts the details of the three families’ interactions with MCH. In each instance, MCH allegedly failed to ensure effective communication for the deaf or hard-of-hearing patient. The complaint argues that MCH knew doing so was illegal and, therefore, its acts were “…willful, malicious, intentional, recklessly indifferent and undertaken with an evil mind and motive….” 

The plaintiffs contend that MCH violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and New Hampshire’s human rights and consumer protection laws. They seek declaratory and permanent injunctive relief, in addition to multiple types of damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by Red Sneaker Law, PLLC.