Philadelphia Settles Lawsuit Over Alleged Discrimination Against HIV-Positive Man by EMTs
The city of Philadelphia on Monday settled a civil-rights lawsuit over alleged discrimination against an HIV-positive man who said that city emergency medical technicians provided inappropriate care after they leaned his HIV status, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The settlement between the city and John Gill Smith, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the Department of Justice -- which joined the case on Smith's behalf -- was filed in federal court (Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/14). According to the suit, Smith made a 911 call in February 2001 reporting severe chest pains. When the emergency personnel learned that Smith was HIV-positive, one EMT left the house and another told Smith, "Cover your face or I'm not going to help you," according to the suit. The suit also alleged that the EMTs would not help Smith to the ambulance and would not let him lie down in the ambulance. ALPP in 1993 won a settlement with the city in a similar case, but the project says that the city did not comply with its promise to retrain employees on proper responses to people living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/3/03). According to the Inquirer, the city of Philadelphia has agreed to pay Smith $50,000 in compensatory damages and to conduct mandatory semiannual training on HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases for city EMTs and paramedics. The city for three years also will provide documentation for court review showing that training is provided, the Inquirer reports. Under the settlement, the city denies violating any laws and said it settled to avoid the "expense and inconvenience of further litigation." ALPP Executive Director Ronda Goldfein said the suit shows that continued training for medical personnel on issues such as HIV/AIDS is necessary (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.