(CN) - A deaf man can pursue claims against a Nevada doctor who allegedly refused to provide a sign-language interpreter to his deaf wife before she died of cancer, the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday.
The federal complaint in Las Vegas alleges that the Pahrump-based Desert View Regional Medical Center and Dr. Georges Tannoury consistently and for several years refused to provide an American Sign Language interpreter for Charlene Ervine's appointments. Charlene's husband, Sie, is also deaf.
U.S. District Judge James Mahan ruled for the defendants, however, finding the widower missed the two-year deadline for filing. Mahan reasoned that Ervine should have filed his claims within two years of the first time he and his wife were denied an interpreter, which was in August 2007. Ervine filed his suit in 2010, a year after Charlene's death.
The complaint alleges failure to communicate effectively with a deaf person under the federal Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit revived the Rehabilitation Act claims Thursday.
"So long as an alleged violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a discrete and independently wrongful discriminatory act, it causes a new claim to accrue and a new limitations period to run," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the panel. "A claim under the act will not be untimely merely because similar, even identical, violations of the act occurred outside the statutory period."
O'Scannlain added that "at least one alleged discriminatory act appears to have taken place in November 2008, within the limitations period."
The San Francisco-based panel affirmed judgment against Ervine as to the ADA claim, finding that he lacked standing. Because the lower court had found the ADA claims untimely, the panel remanded for dismissal.