On May 13, 2020, Relman Colfax filed this disability rights lawsuit against CSL Plasma, Inc., for excluding people with a wide variety of disabilities from donating plasma. The complaint raises claims under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Colorado's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.
The suit, brought on behalf of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and four of its individual members, alleges that defendant broadly refuses to comply with federal and state disability rights laws, excluding people with disabilities based on unfounded stereotypes while refusing to make the simplest accommodations for their needs.
For example, it alleges, CSL excludes anyone with certain mental illnesses, even when those illnesses are controlled by medication, based on the notion that aliens might command them to act irrationally when they are not on their medication. It refuses to obtain wheelchair-accessible scales or provide any other means for wheelchair users to be weighed (a prerequisite to donating plasma). It bars donors who cannot transfer unassisted to its donation bed, even when such assistance would be as simple as providing a stepstool. And it refuses to let many people bring their trained service animals to its facilities.
CSL continues to claim that it does not need to follow Title III and analogous state disability rights law, even after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (which governs Colorado) held that plasma centers are subject to such law. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to require CSL to update its policies to come into compliance with the ADA and state law, and provide equal access to its services to people with disabilities.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Relman Colfax is co-counseling with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and LaBarre Law Offices.
The parties reached a settlement in April 2021 which provides for policy changes permitting individuals with schizophrenia or other mental illness that is sufficiently controlled by medication to donate, provided the medication does not affect the safety of the donor or the purity or potency of the therapies that will be made from plasma and, if necessary, obtain confirmation from their healthcare provided to donate. Additional policy changes will permit service animals in CSL donation centers, consistent with the requirements of Title III of the ADA, provide opportunities for individuals who cannot stand on a scale to be weighed (as required for plasma donation) to use wheelchair-accessible scales; and provide reasonable modifications to assist individuals with disabilities to get on to donor beds. The other terms of the settlement are confidential.