Courthouse Steps: Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller

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On April 28, 2022, The U.S. Supreme Court decided Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller.  The case involved the availability of emotional damages for discrimination on the basis of disability and, more generally, the scope of recoverable damages for private actions under Spending Clause statutes.  After the respondent, Premier Rehab, declined to provide a sign language interpreter at Jane Cummings’ physical therapy sessions, Cummings sued the provider in federal court.  Cummings claimed disability discrimination in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Affordable Care Act.  A trial court found that the only injuries allegedly caused by Premier were emotional in nature and dismissed the complaint, ruling that emotional damages are not recoverable under either statute.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that emotional damages are not recoverable in a private action under either the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Affordable Care Act.  The majority opinion was penned by Chief Justice Roberts.  Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor.

Please join our legal expert to discuss the case, the legal issues involved, and the implications for disabilities law going forward.  


Curt Levey, President, Committee for Justice


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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.