Bragdon v. Abbott
Federal Supplement 1995; 912: 580-596
Court Decision: 912 Federal Supplement 580; 1995 December 22 (date of decision). The U.S. District Court for the District of Maine held that a dentist violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") and the Maine Human Rights Act ("MHRA") in refusing to fill the cavity of a person infected with HIV, wholly asymptomatic. The dentist had agreed to fill the patient's cavity, yet only in a hospital with the patient to pay the dentist's normal fee in addition to any hospital charges. The court held that asymptomatic HIV infection constitutes a physical impairment for the purposes of the ADA and the MHRA as it interferes with the major life activities of reproduction. Similarly, the court held that here the dentist could not prove that the patient or her treatment posed a direct threat to the health or safety of others. In its analysis, the court rejected the CDC recommendations as to the employment of HIV infected health care workers as the risk at issue was not the transmission of HIV from worker to patient, but that of patient to dentist infection, a case in which the professional controls the risk of infection. Finally, the court rejected the dentist's arguments that the ADA, as applied here, violated the Interstate Commerce Clause, the Due Process Right to freedom from unjustified intrusions on personal security, and the Due Process Right to freedom to contract. The court enjoined the dentist from refusing to provide treatment solely based on HIV positive status without making an individualized assessment. [KIE/SP]
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