CVS Pharmacy v. John Doe, by KAILA PHILO
In 2018, a group of HIV-positive individuals filed a federal discrimination lawsuit after the pharmacy chain CVS enrolled them in a prescription benefit plan that limits the ways in which they can get specialty medications, a class that includes prescriptions to treat HIV and AIDs, at “in-network” prices.
Whereas before the patients could use their full insurance benefits while obtaining their HIV/AIDS medication from any in-network pharmacy, including from pharmacies that were not at a CVS retail location, the change to the Caremark California Specialty Pharmacy program meant that they could only accept medication through mail delivery or by going to a CVS pharmacy.
They say neither option works since mail delivery leaves their medication exposed to the elements, including heat or theft, while pick-up at a CVS affords little privacy.
The plaintiffs sought an exemption from the insurance plan's delivery conditions by arguing that they have disproportionate effects on members with HIV or AIDS.
On Monday, the justices agreed to decide whether section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits disability discrimination by recipients of federal funding, provides a cause of action for plaintiff's discrimination through disparate impact
CVS is represented by Lisa S. Blatt at Williams & Connolly. The anonymous patients are represented by Consumer Watchdog attonrey Gerald Sinclair Flanagan.
Jane Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller PLLC, by SAMANTHA HAWKINS
The justices have agreed to decide whether compensatory damages available under federal civil rights law include compensation for emotional distress.
The case arose when Jane Cummings, who has been deaf and blind since birth, consulted a physical therapy provider for her chronic back pain and was denied a sign-language interpreter. Cummings sought damages for the “humiliation, frustration and emotional distress” from the ordeal, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed dismissal of her case, saying such damages are available only for a “serious emotional disturbance.”
“In doing so, the Fifth Circuit adopted a rule that would deny compensation for one of discrimination’s principal harms — and that would leave many victims… with no meaningful remedy at all,” Cummings argued in a petition for a writ of certiorari.
The petition notes that other courts around the country have held that emotional distress damages are generally recoverable, creating a split in understanding about the relief available under Title VI.
“The meaning of those vital antidiscrimination laws should not depend on the happenstance of geography,” the petition states. “But since the Fifth Circuit’s decision, it does.”
Andrew Rozynski of Eisenberg & Baum is representing Cummings, while Brian Scott Bradley of Watson, Carway, Midkiff and Lungingham is representing Premier Rehab Keller.
Gianinna Gallardo V. Simone Marstiller, by BRAD KUTNER
In November 2008, 13-year-old Gianinna Gallardo was left in a permanent vegetative state after she was hit by a truck while getting off her school bus in Florida.
Medicaid covered more than $862,000 in medical expenses after the crash, but state health authorities would later claim that Florida law entitled them to recover about $300,000 from the $800,000 settlement that the Gallardo family reached with the owner of the truck and the school board.
Attorneys at Creed & Gowdy and the Public Citizen Litigation Group aruged in a petition for a writ of certiorari that the 11th Circuit was wrong to allow such reimbursement as it conflicted with Florida Supreme Court precedent. Two years older, the state court "held exactly the opposite — that the Medicaid Act preempts the same Florida statute and limits the state to seeking reimbursement from settlement amounts attributable to past medical expense."