Ny Surgeon Refused To Treat Hiv Patients After Secret Testing, Must Pay $375,000 Damages
New York Supreme Court Justice Analisa Torres ruled in a landmark decision that Emmanuel O. Asare's blanket policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York City Human Rights Law, and that his refusal to treat caused the patients such emotional distress that they were owed the maximum damages possible, even in the absence of a medical diagnosis such as PTSD.
"It's gratifying to know that justice has been done," said plaintiff Mark Milano of New York City, who was represented by Housing Works and the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff. Milano, a long term AIDS survivor and activist, added: "Dr. Asare treated me horribly, making it clear he wouldn't touch anyone with HIV. It was emotionally and psychologically damaging, and it was terrible to find that he had done the same thing to a number of other people with HIV. This ruling sends a message that such discrimination must stop."
Asare agreed to perform gynecomastia surgery in July 2014 on Milano, who later told the surgeon he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1982 and anal cancer in 2007. Asare then informed Milano that it was his policy not to perform any procedures on any patients with "the Human Immunodeficiency Virus." Such a sweepingly exclusionary policy is not allowed under civil rights laws, and when Milano informed Asare that he would file a complaint, Asare brazenly told him to do so, stating that he could turn away any patient he wanted.
Milano filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a lawsuit in May 2015 alleging that Asare unlawfully discriminated on the basis of a patient's disability by refusing to provide services. DOJ investigators also found Asare tested numerous other patients for HIV without their knowledge – violating New York Public Health Law 27F – and turned them away if they tested positive.
In addition to the damages awarded Milano and two other patients who joined the case, Torres ruled Asare must pay a civil penalty of $15,000, may not test any further patients without consent, and must comply with all ADA policies regarding patient intake and screening.
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