A judge has limited the arguments Creighton University can make later this month in defending itself from a lawsuit by a man who says its medical school discriminated against him because he is deaf.
The jury trial, set to start Aug. 20 in Omaha's federal court, comes after a U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in March that said a jury should be allowed to decide whether Creighton discriminated against medical school student Michael Argenyi. The ruling reversed a lower court's dismissal of Argenyi's lawsuit.
Argenyi was accepted to Creighton's medical school in 2008 after disclosing that he was hearing-impaired and requesting accommodations for his disability to allow him to follow lectures and communicate with patients. Creighton contends that it offered adequate accommodations for him. But after his requests for an interpreter were denied, Argenyi took a leave of absence from the school and sued.
In his ruling, the judge barred Creighton from arguing that Argenyi's requested accommodations would fundamentally alter the medical school curriculum or pose a threat to the health and safety of patients.
Under federal law intended to prevent discrimination against those with disabilities, that leaves Creighton with the defense that accommodating Argenyi would have caused an undue burden to Creighton, either through significant difficulty or expense, said Mary Vargas, a Maryland attorney for Argenyi.
“But they testified in deposition that cost was not the reason that they denied the accommodations,” Vargas said.
An attorney for Creighton did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Wednesday.
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