Deaf women claim they were denied sign interpreter at hospital

Joel Brakken Feb. 27, 2014, 10:36pm

Two deaf woman are suing a hospital alleging they were refused the aid of a sign language interpreter. 

Penny Trahan and Rhonda Morgan filed a lawsuit in Feb. 20 in the Jefferson County District Court against Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth, citing violations of chapter 121, violation of the American Disabilities Act and violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are both deaf and use sign language to communicate. The complaint states Trahan is a mother of a 14-year-old son, who, on Feb. 20, 2012, was hit by a truck while riding his scooter and subsequently taken to Christus Hospital for treatment.

Trahan alleges the hospital did not provide a American Sign Language interpreter so she was forced to rely on her niece to communicate with the doctors.

According to the complaint, Trahan's niece did not know ASL and she was not able to fully communicate with her son's doctors and attending staff.

The complaint further states that Rhonda Morgan is deaf and on June 4, 2012, was dropped off by her son-in-law at Christus Hospital because she was feeling faint and short of breath.

She says she requested an ASL interpreter in writing at the front desk when she first arrived. After she was seen by the nurse, she wrote the nurse a note telling her that she needed an interpreter. The complaint states the nurse then wrote "what is wrong with you, why are you here?" and Morgan wrote that she needed an ASL interpreter and was short of breath. Morgan states she was told in writing to have a seat in the wating room.

Morgan alleges she continued to request an interpreter during her time at the hospital, but the hospital failed to bring an interpreter into the hospital to aid the plaintiff.

The plaintiffs are seeking an undisclosed amount of damages.

They are being represented by Lucia Rombino Ostrom of Disability Rights Texas.

Jefferson County District Court Case No. D-195-358.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Jefferson County District Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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