Jury: Creighton Medical School violated ADA

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Education for all

A federal jury found September 4 that a Nebraska-based medical school violated federal law by denying a students computer-assisted real-time transcription (CART) for his studies.

The student, Michael Argenyi, however, will not receive damages because the jury found that the discrimination was not intentional.

“While today is a really important victory for students with disabilities, he never wanted to be a pioneer,” Argenyi’s attorney, Mary Vargas, told the Associated Press. “It doesn’t fix what happened. He should be a doctor now; he should have graduated in May.”

Argenyi is a deaf student who does not use sign language. Argenyi, who has a cochlear implant, excelled as an undergraduate at Seattle University with the assistance of CART, a system which transcribes written words onto a computer screen. Creighton Medical School, however, denied him CART services and after two years, Argenyi dropped out and sued the school.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska dismissed Argenyi’s case, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the decision in January 2013, finding that the district court applied the wrong legal standard. Specifically, the 8th Circuit found that the district court only considered whether Argenyi had been “effectively excluded” from the program, rather than whether he had received a reasonable accommodation, as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message that students must be judged based on their abilities and colleges and universities must provide meaningful access to students with disabilities,” Disability Rights Nebraska, which represented Argenyi, said in a news release.

The school has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

Disability Rights Nebraska is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.