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
reports. The settlement between the city and John Gill Smith,
Project of Pennsylvania
Department of Justice
-- which joined the case on Smith's behalf -- was filed in
federal court (Slobodzian,
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
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
said the suit shows that continued training for medical
personnel on issues such as HIV/AIDS is necessary (Philadelphia
with AIDS patient
Phila. will pay him $50,000 and
train emergency workers how to handle those with the disease.
By Joseph A.
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
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
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."
writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or