Mashel Law Settles Claim Against Physical Therapy Group For Refusing To Treat Client Because He Is HIV Positive

Mashel Law settled a pre-lawsuit claim on behalf of a client who suffered mental anguish when he was denied care by a physical therapy group because he is HIV positive. New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) forbids, "any owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent, or employee of any place of public accommodation directly or indirectly to refuse, withhold from or deny to any person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, or to discriminate against any person in the furnishing thereof. . ." N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(f).

Mashel Law argued to the attorneys representing the physical therapy group that our client qualified as being “handicapped” as defined by NJLAD because a person suffering from HIV or AIDS under the law is deemed to fit within the statutory definition of handicap. N.J.S.A. 10:5-5(q). Second, it was argued that the physical therapy group must be considered a public accommodation within the meaning of the NJLAD, since a place of public accommodation includes “any dispensary, clinic or hospital.” N.J.S.A. 10:5-5(i). Moreover, because the physical therapy group advertises to obtain more patients, it therefore, "caters to the public, and by advertising and other forms of invitation induces patronage generally." Evans v. Ross, 57 N.J. Super. 223, 231, 154 A.2d 441 (1959). Lastly, we pointed out that the NJLAD was designed to "insure that all citizens of this State shall have equal rights as members of the public and not be subjected to the embarrassment and humiliation of being invited to an establishment, only to find its doors barred to them." Id. We made clear during negotiations that if this claim had to be placed into suit, we were very confident in our ability to prove our client’s discrimination claim before a jury at trial.

Although it was agreed by the parties to this legal dispute to keep the terms of settlement confidential, our client expressed how pleased he is with the fair and reasonable terms of settlement obtained on his behalf.

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