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Weil Attorneys Win a Victory for the Hearing-Impaired – and a 2015 Award from the Texas Civil Rights Project

Along with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), which provides legal and educational services for low-income and minority residents of Texas, Weil has won a significant pro bono appeal in a matter involving the civil rights of two deaf or near-deaf parents of a cancer-stricken infant daughter from Hidalgo County, Texas. Partner Ralph Miller and associate Nathan White provided critical contributions to the victory on August 28, 2015 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District. Nathan authored the appellate briefs, and Ralph argued the case in New Orleans on behalf of the couple.

The hospital had repeatedly failed to provide interpreters for the parents as they attempted to understand and make decisions about chemotherapy treatment for their now 5-year-old daughter. The couple, represented by TCRP, filed a lawsuit against the hospital, but the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Texas Human Resources Code did not protect them in this matter and dismissed the suit. A three-judge Fifth Circuit panel has now reversed that ruling and remanded the case for trial. The opinion has potentially significant implications for access to medical services and sign-language interpreters or auxiliary aids for hearing-impaired individuals.

Just before the appellate decision was issued, the Texas Civil Rights Project announced that it will recognize both Ralph and Nathan for their work in Perez v. Doctors Hospital by presenting them with the 2015 Kristi Couvillon Pro Bono Award at the 25th Anniversary Bill of Rights Dinner on November 14 in Austin. The annual dinner celebrates the Bill of Rights, raises funds to help low-income Texans, and honors individuals striving for human rights.