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U.S. Court In Louisiana Holds Plaintiff Failed To Show Racial Discrimination In Treatment At Dialysis Clinic


HLD, v. 31, n. 1 (January 2003)

U.S. Court In Louisiana Holds Plaintiff Failed To Show Racial Discrimination In Treatment At Dialysis Clinic

Plaintiff Bernadette Jackson, an African-American woman, began dialysis treatment at a Bio-Medical Applications of Louisiana, Inc. (BMA) facility in June 1996. Plaintiff had regularly scheduled appointments at the facility for four years. On September 30, 2000, plaintiff was unable to attend one of her morning appointments and called the BMA facility and rescheduled for later that same day. The rescheduled appointment was the first time in four years that plaintiff received treatment by the third-shift charge nurse, Donna Waguespack. Plaintiff alleged that, during her appointment, Waguespack refused to provide her the same attention and treatment that she gave to other third-shift patients, all of whom were white. According to plaintiff, she was placed in the fourth row of dialysis chairs rather in the front two rows and another dialysis technician had to treat her because Waguespack refused to do so. Plaintiff sued BMA and Waguespack (collectively defendants) in federal district court for racial discrimination in the provision of medical services in violation of Title VI and 42 U.S.C. � 1981, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress under state law. Defendants moved for summary judgment.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted defendants' summary judgment motion. First, the court noted that plaintiff's Title VI claim against Waguespack must be dismissed as Title VI provides for no individual liability. Next, the court held that, even assuming plaintiff could establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination, defendants presented a legitimate, non-discriminatory explanation for their actions--namely, that the first two rows of chairs were reserved for regularly scheduled patients or were not immediately available and that Waguespack had to shift plaintiff's care to another technician to accommodate the extra, unscheduled appointment. Moreover, plaintiff failed to offer any evidence showing defendants' legitimate explanation for placing her in the fourth row of chairs was pretextual. Likewise, the court dismissed plaintiff's � 1981 claim under the same burden-shifting analysis applied to her Title VI claim. Finally, the court dismissed plaintiff's state law claims for intentional infliction of emotion distress, finding no evidence that defendants intended to inflict emotional distress on plaintiff.

Jackson v. Waguespack, No. 01-2972, 2002 WL 31427316 (E.D. La. Oct. 25, 2002) (13 pages).

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