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Md. College Settles Federal Suit Over Interpreter Request

CATONSVILLE Md.—The Community College of Baltimore County is settling a federal lawsuit brought by a hearing-impaired woman who accused the school of refusing an internship placement after she asked for an interpreter.

The Daily Record reports that Alma Decola Martin and the college say the terms won’t be disclosed.

“The college denies any liability, of course,” said Clifford Geiger, an attorney for the college. “We are pleased we are able to reach a resolution of the matter early on in the process.”

Martin’s attorney, Michael P. Coyle, declined to comment on the settlement.

After an assessment to identify jobs she could perform with her level of hearing, Martin decided to pursue training to be a central services technician, which involves disinfecting surgical equipment.

The school provided an interpreter for class work. But when Martin asked for one for required clinical hours, the suit states that she was told she’d be a “liability” and shouldn’t have been allowed to enter the program. Martin claims the college then refused to place her in an internship.

“The college provided reasonable accommodation to Ms. Martin all along the way and I believe they ran into a situation where there was a miscommunication,” Geiger said.

The suit, originally filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court and later moved to U.S. District Court, claimed two counts each of violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and sought a minimum of $300,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

“Ms. Martin’s request for an interpreter is not to meet a personal need, and the accommodation would not involve an undue financial or administrative burden for CCBC,” Martin’s complaint states.

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