Health Reform WK-EDGE State’s limitations period applied in ACA-based discrimination claim against hospital
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

State’s limitations period applied in ACA-based discrimination claim against hospital

By Leah S. Poniatowski, J.D.

Applicable precedent holds that state statutory period controls in absence of explicit provision in federal statute.

Louisiana’s one-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims applied to bar a disability discrimination lawsuit filed against a hospital under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) for allegedly failing to accommodate a patient’s deafness, a federal district court in Louisiana ruled, applying federal appellate precedent (Ward v. Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc. January 24, 2020, Jackson, B.).

Background. A deaf patient sought medical assistance at the emergency medical department of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital on two occasions. She alleged that the hospital had failed to provide her a sign language interpreter, which she needed in order to effectively communicate, in June 2015 and in May 2016. She filed a personal injury lawsuit against the hospital for disability discrimination under section 1557 of the ACA in April 2018.

ACA. The ACA prohibits discrimination by health care providers that receive federal funding. This provision was not original, but borrowed from several existing federal anti-discrimination statutes, including section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, protecting against disability discrimination. The ACA does not provide a statute of limitations. Pursuant to a governing federal appellate decision, claims brought under the Rehabilitation Act are subject to a state’s limitations period. In the present case, the applicable statute of limitations is one year. Because the patient filed her lawsuit more than one year after her visits to the hospital, her claim was untimely. Therefore, the hospital’s motion for summary judgment was granted.

The case is No. 3:18-cv-00454-BAJ-RLB.

Attorneys: Andrew David Bizer (Bizer & DeReus) for Tracy D. Ward. Douglas K. Williams (Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, LLP) for Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc.

Companies: Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc.

Cases: CaseDecisions AccessNews ProgramIntegrityNews QualityNews LouisianaNews NewsFeed

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