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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Wins Landmark Verdict in AIDS Discrimination Case; Ohio Jury Awards $512,000 to Charon Estate FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 14, 1994 TOLEDO -- A Federal jury today found that a doctor and a hospital in Fremont, Ohio discriminated against a man with AIDS who sought emergency medical care for a non-AIDS related allergic reaction, awarding $512,000 to the estate of Fred L. Charon. The jury found that Dr. Charles Hull and Fremont Memorial Hospital were liable for discrimination under the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and assessed $62,000 compensatory damages for pain and suffering against the hospital and Dr. Hull. The jury also imposed $150,000 in punitive damages against Dr. Hull and $300,000 in punitive damages against the hospital. "The jury has sent a strong message to doctors and hospitals around the country: AIDS discrimination is illegal and will not be tolerated," said Marc E. Elovitz of the American Civil Liberties Union national AIDS Project and counsel for the plaintiffs. "This message is especially important in 1994, with more than one million Americans infected with HIV needing medical care from the biggest cities to the smallest towns," said Ellen Simon Sacks, a partner in the law firm of Spangenberg, Shibley, Lancione & Liber of Cleveland and co-counsel in the case. "The doctor and the hospital tried to rely on any prejudices that jurors may have by suggesting that people with AIDS do not deserve the same medical treatment as everyone else," said Elovitz. "I'm glad to see that the jury did not follow this `blame the victim' defense. The laws of this country protect everyone equally, including people with AIDS." The case is believed to be the first AIDS discrimination claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act to be brought to trial. Federal District Judge John W. Potter ruled last week that he would decide on the ADA claims while the jury would address claims brought under 2 older federal laws and a state law claim for damages. The ADA was specifically designed to ensure that people with AIDS and other disabilities would be free from discrimination in hospitals, doctors offices, and other private establishments. Fred L. Charon was driving through Ohio on a vacation trip to Wisconsin in 1992 when he suffered a severe allergic reaction to medication, unrelated to his HIV status. He was rushed to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital in Fremont, Ohio, where emergency room staff began to treat him. When the admitting doctor on duty learned of Charon's AIDS diagnosis, he refused to admit him to the hospital, stating, "Once you get an AIDS patient in the hospital, you will never get him out." Mr. Charon was sent a long distance away by ambulance to another hospital. In the fall of 1992, Mr. Charon brought suit against the admitting doctor, Dr. Charles Hull and Memorial Hospital, claiming violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Federal Rehabilitation Act, the Emergency Transfer and Active Labor Act, and the state common law against intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress. Mr. Charon died on March 25, 1993. The suit has been continued by his companion, Bruce Howe, the representative of Mr. Charon's estate. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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