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Therapy trainee’s ADA suit against hospital, Ivy Tech proceeds

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A lawsuit against Henry County Memorial Hospital and Ivy Tech Community College will proceed after a judge ruled in favor of a woman who claims her termination from a clinical training session violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Angela Seward was an A student in the Ivy Tech physical therapy assisting program, having completed two of three clinical training sessions, according to the record in her case. Despite earning high marks in her third and final clinical session at Henry Memorial’s rehabilitation services department in New Castle, she was terminated two weeks before it was scheduled to end. She therefore could not complete the program just weeks ahead of scheduled graduation or sit for the state physical therapist assistant licensing exam.

In her suit, Seward claims she was confronted by her clinical instructor, Allison Stroud, and another therapist just days after Seward said she confided to another student that earlier in her life she had struggled with depression and self-esteem issues. Seward was terminated from the program after the confrontation.

Judge William T. Lawrence on Wednesday denied motions to dismiss from the hospital and Ivy Tech.  
 
“Seward alleges that her history of depression and self-esteem issues are mental impairments that interfere with the proper functioning of her neurological system and thus constitute a disability within the definition of the ADA and that each of the Defendants is a public entity within the meaning of the ADA. She also alleges that each Defendant receives federal funding,” Lawrence wrote.

“Further, Seward has alleged that she has a disability of which the Defendants were aware and that the Defendants denied her the ability to participate in the clinical rotation and thus complete the PTAP because of that disability. She also alleges that Ivy Tech refused to make a reasonable accommodation that would allow her to complete the PTAP. Thus, Seward has alleged sufficient facts, which must be accepted as true at this juncture, to state a valid ADA claim against the Defendants.”

Henry Community Health declined to comment because the lawsuit is ongoing.

The case is Angela Seward v. Henry County Memorial Hospital, et al., 1:16-cv-1703.

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