Home > Article from newspaper > Civil rights group files ADA lawsuits against local hospitals, restaurants

Civil rights group files ADA lawsuits against local hospitals, restaurants

July 28, 2007

 Deaf patient claims doctors failed to provide interpreter during child birth

By BRAD DOHERTY, The Brownsville Herald

About 30 people attended a press conference in fron of VRMC, Thursday, July 26, 2007 in support of ADA law suits filed againist a local hospital and local restaurants by the South Texas Civil Rights Project.

Just over a year ago, Claudia Saldaña, who is deaf, was in pain, about to give birth and in desperate need of an interpreter to help doctors communicate with her as she went into labor.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday against Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville, she alleges doctors never called for an interpreter during her May 2, 2006, visit and that she eventually gave birth to a baby, who she named Megan, by passing written notes to doctors explaining how she felt during a cesarean section.

Abner Burnett, an attorney with South Texas Civil Rights Project, filed five lawsuits Thursday in various state district courts in Cameron County, on behalf of Saldaña and another disabled person, Federico Vasquez.

Burnett claims they were discriminated against at various businesses and hospitals in Brownsville that failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The act was passed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. It prohibits discrimination against the disabled and guarantees equal access to services for all Americans.

On Thursday, Saldaña talked about her experiences of discrimination on a sidewalk in front of Valley Regional Medical Center, where some 30 people gathered to rally for the lawsuits. VRMC is one of the businesses named in the lawsuit.

Saldaña alleges that when she gave birth at VRMC to her first daughter, Daisy, four years ago, staff at that hospital failed to provide her with an interpreter.

“We offer a variety of options for the hearing impaired, including utilizing employees who are able to sign. … Since the lawsuit was filed today, and we have not yet been served, we have not had an opportunity to review the details in this case,” wrote VBMC-Brownsville spokeswoman Teri Retana in a prepared statement.

The South Texas Civil Rights Project is also suing ABC Pediatrics on Saldaña’s behalf, alleging that doctors there discriminated against her and her daughters.

Dr. Yogesh Trakru, who treats the Saldaña girls, said Thursday that his clinic has tried to accommodate the family, often times trying to contact an interpreter, who had to travel from McAllen.

“We have to give them two hours notice, and then one hour travel,” he said. “When kids get sick, it happens all of a sudden.”

Saldaña’s husband, Sergio, said that at times when his wife visits the clinic or a hospital, she often doesn’t know what’s going on.

“We need to know what’s going on,” he said. “We need to know what’s happening at all time.”

On more than one occasion, the Saldañas have had mishaps with medications because there was no interpreter to explain the details, according to Sergio.

The civil rights group is also filing suit on behalf of Federico Vasquez, who is blind, against two local restaurants, Lula’s on Central Boulevard and Taqueria El Taco Loco on Old Highway 77.

Vasquez alleges that waitresses at both establishments refused to allow him to enter with his guide dog, Rookie.

The owner of Taqueria El Taco Loco, Idalia Garza, was not available for comment Thursday, according to an employee.

The daughter of the owner of Lula’s, Lourdes Lopez, said she was not aware of the ADA and that in the four years since her mother’s restaurant opened they have never had a similar incident.

“We did not know that was the law,” she said. “I guess I’ll have to start letting them in.”

Lopez said the employees at the restaurant were concerned for the safety of other patrons.

“There are kids (at the restaurant),” she said. “We thought the dog might get scared and try to attack one.”

“He’s a trained dog, he’s here to help me,” Vasquez said. “He’s my eyes.”


  1. Lisa Marie
    July 28, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    It’s time to change! I have been through like that.

  2. June 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Very intersting post, it’s very hard to find out medical information. Almost information overload. I came across a wonderful site Visit Medical chat groups the worlds first medical socail networking community

  3. jason c
    November 12, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Its wrong to discriminate. The world needs to change.

  4. Regina Harvey
    December 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I need some assistance my Pastor is a double amputee and his civil rights were violated I’m looking for some kind of support group to contact please feel free to email me with some information at reginanunn36@hotmail.com

  1. July 29, 2007 at 6:02 pm
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: