from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 1:15-cv-21960-MGC
ED CARNES, Chief Judge, MARCUS, Circuit Judge, and ROSS,
Harold Crane, who is deaf, brought this action against
Defendants Lifemark Hospitals of Florida, Inc., d/b/a
Palmetto General Hospital ("PGH"), and its parent
organization, Lifemark Hospitals, Inc., for their alleged
failure to provide an American Sign Language
("ASL") interpreter for Crane to effectively
communicate during an involuntary commitment evaluation.
Specifically, Crane alleges the defendants violated Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794
(the "RA") and Title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12181, et seq.
(the "ADA"). The district court granted the
defendants' motion for summary judgment.
issue in this appeal is whether Crane was afforded an equal
opportunity, through an appropriate auxiliary aid, to
effectively communicate medically relevant information during
his involuntary commitment evaluation. After a thorough
de novo review, and viewing the facts in the light
most favorable to Crane as the non-moving party, we reverse
the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor
of the defendants. Specifically, genuine issues of material
fact exist as to whether Crane was able to effectively
communicate medically relevant information and whether the
hospital personnel were deliberately indifferent.
is profoundly deaf and suffers from chronic depressive and
anxiety disorders. On July 17, 2011, the Miami-Dade Police
Department responded to a call that Crane was suicidal and
transported Crane to PGH for an involuntary commitment
examination pursuant to the Baker Act, Fla. Stat. §
394.451, et seq.During a Baker Act evaluation, a health
care provider merely determines whether the patient is a
danger to himself or others and does not engage in complex
mental health treatment or diagnosis.
arrival at PGH, Crane was treated for alcohol related issues,
including suspected consumption of rubbing alcohol. The next
day, July 18, 2011, Crane was admitted to the hospital for
medical reasons stemming from his alcohol intoxication. Dr.
Marjorie Caro evaluated Crane on July 18, 2011, pursuant to
the Baker Act, and she determined Crane was not a threat to
himself or others. During this Baker Act evaluation, Dr. Caro
communicated with Crane through written notes and through her
basic sign language skills. On July 19, 2011, Crane remained
in the hospital.
20, 2011, an ASL interpreter was present for the first time
during Crane's hospital stay to assist Dr. Caro in
communicating with Crane. Dr. Caro discharged Crane from PGH
later that day. Crane contends he repeatedly asked for a
sign language interpreter throughout his entire hospital
filed this lawsuit against the defendants seeking monetary
damages and injunctive relief pursuant to the RA and
injunctive relief pursuant to the ADA. Specifically, Crane
alleged that defendants violated the RA and ADA when they did
not provide him with an ASL interpreter during his hospital
stay, and thus, failed to ensure effective communication. The
defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in the
district court, arguing they did not violate the RA or ADA
because they provided Crane with sufficient auxiliary aids
for effective communication.
district court granted summary judgment for the defendants,
finding, inter alia, (1) there was no genuine issue
of material fact that the defendants' use of written
notes and basic sign language interpretation was ineffective
communication, and (2) there was no genuine issue of material
fact that the hospital personnel were deliberately
timely appealed the district court's grant of summary
judgment, arguing the district court incorrectly determined
there was no genuine issue of material fact as to effective
communication and deliberate indifference.