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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”



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).



City settles with AIDS patient

Phila. will pay him $50,000 and train emergency workers how to handle those with the disease.

By Joseph A. Slobodzian

Inquirer Staff Writer

The City of Philadelphia has agreed to pay $50,000 and conduct mandatory training for emergency medical personnel to settle a 2003 civil-rights suit filed by a former Germantown man with AIDS who said paramedics failed to provide appropriate care after learning he had the immune disorder.

The settlement between the city and John Gill Smith, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Justice Department, which joined the case on Smith's behalf, was filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, the city denied violating any laws and said it settled to avoid the "expense and inconvenience of further litigation."

In addition to the $50,000 for Smith, the city will provide mandatory semiannual training on HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases for all city paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

For three years, the city will submit for court review documentation showing that the training was provided.

At issue in the suit was a February 2001 incident in which Smith, then 38, called 911 after having severe chest pains. When Smith's partner told paramedics Smith had AIDS, the lawsuit said, one left the house.

The remaining paramedic, the suit said, shouted at Smith: "Cover your face or I'm not going to help you."

The paramedics agreed to take Smith to an emergency room, the lawsuit continues, but would not help him into the ambulance, forcing Smith's partner and another friend to move him.



The case was similar to an AIDS Law Project lawsuit against the city in 1993 on behalf of a Philadelphia student refused care by a city rescue crew when they learned he had AIDS.

That lawsuit resulted in the nation's first settlement involving AIDS and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The settlement, also negotiated with the U.S. Justice Department, resulted in mandatory AIDS education for more than 2,000 Philadelphia firefighters and emergency personnel.

Ronda B. Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project, said Smith's suit showed the need for continuing training on medical issues involving diseases such as AIDS.

Goldfein said Smith, who no longer lives in the Philadelphia area, "feels a tremendous relief at finally getting this settlement. This was never about money. That was about a very scary thing that happened to [Smith] that [Smith] didn't want to happen to anybody else."

Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or