HIV discrimination case moves to the full Tenth Circuit

Can a jail intentionally discriminate against an arrestee because of his HIV status?

In 2012, the Payne County Jail in Stillwater, Oklahoma moved an HIV positive arrestee from general population to solitary confinement “due to his HIV status.”

Unlike detainees in general population, people held in solitary confinement at the Payne County Jail are locked down 23 hours a day, and the jail does not provide those individuals with the same programs, services, and activities that it provides to people in general population, including equal access to telephones, showers, and religious services, or distraction activities like games or television.

On June 18, 2015, the Tulsa attorneys at Bryan & Terrill Law filed a petition asking the full court of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to consider the proper standard for evaluating discrimination by public entities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case highlights the absurd results that have followed a string of cases interpreting the ADA to permit intentional discrimination by public entities where the discriminatory reason combines with some other justification for the offending conduct.

For example, in one case a court concluded that the ADA did not prohibit a jail from purposefully denying HIV medication because that decision was motivated, in part, by the cost of the HIV medication, and not solely because of the person’s HIV status.

Every other court in the United States has rejected the standard currently applied in the Tenth Circuit, which covers Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The case number is 14-6187, Doe v. Board of Co. Commr’s of Payne Co., Okla.

If you have additional questions, contact the injury firm of Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC at 918-935-2777.