Settlement Agreement | Department of Justice Press Releases


1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, with the United States Department of Justice (Department) against the Georgetown University Hospital, which, at the time of the complaint was owned and operated by Georgetown University (Georgetown). The complainant, who uses a wheelchair, alleged that on October 8, 1998 Georgetown failed to reasonably accommodate her by providing assistance to help her transfer from her wheelchair to an examination table for a gynecological examination in its Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic.


2. The Parties to this Agreement are the United States and Georgetown University, which, at the time of the complaint and the alleged ADA violation on October 8, 1998, owned and operated Georgetown University Hospital, an acute care hospital whose facilities are located in Washington, D.C. The hospital is currently owned and operated by MedStar-Georgetown Medical Center, Inc., which is not a party to this Agreement.


3. Title III of the ADA applies to public accommodations, including hospitals. Therefore Georgetown is a public accommodation as defined in section 301(7)(f) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.

4. The Department of Justice is authorized to investigate complaints under title III of the ADA and to bring suit in particular cases. 42 U.S.C. § 12188; 28 C.F.R. § 36.502.

5. At the time she alleges that she was denied assistance in transferring from her wheelchair to an examination table, the complainant, Donna Natalie Wilkes, who suffered from spinal stenosis reflex limbs dystrophy, was a person with a disability as defined by 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.


6. Based on its investigation of this matter, the Department alleges that Georgetown violated title III of the ADA during an October 8, 1998 medical appointment by failing to provide reasonable accommodation for Ms. Wilkes by transferring her from her wheelchair to a regular examination table when the one electric examination table located in the Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic was inoperable. The Department agrees to release Georgetown, and its officers, directors, employees, affiliates, successors and assigns, including MedStar-Georgetown Medical Center, Inc., from any and all claims relating to this matter and to refrain from further action, investigation or litigation of this matter in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

In consideration of the mutual promises and consideration set forth herein, the parties agree as follows:


7. Georgetown denies the Department's and Ms. Wilkes' allegations. The parties have agreed to settle these matters without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the allegations.

8. In consideration of the promises made in paragraph 9(a) of this Agreement, the Department agrees that when Georgetown returns this Agreement to the Department signed by an authorized individual, the Department will, within 20 days of its receipt of the Agreement, obtain Ms. Wilkes' signature on the Waiver and Release of Claim attached hereto as Exhibit A. The original copy of the signed Waiver and Release of Claim will be mailed, by the Department, to Georgetown within five days of the Department's receipt of same.

9. Georgetown agrees to take the following actions within ten days of its receipt of the original copy of the Waiver and Release of Claim signed by Ms. Wilkes:

a. Pay the complainant, Donna Natalie Wilkes the amount of $15,000.00. The $15,000.00 payment shall be made in the form of a check made payable to Donna Natalie Wilkes, and shall be sent by certified mail to:

Donna Natalie Wilkes
The Washington Home, #A356
3720 Upton Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016-2299

A copy of the check and Georgetown's cover letter shall be sent to the Department within five days after the original is sent to Ms. Wilkes.

b. Pay the United States a civil penalty in the amount of $10,000.00. The $10,000.00 payment shall be made in the form of a check made payable to the United States Treasury, and mailed to the Department.

10. Georgetown acknowledges that it has been afforded an opportunity to consider this Agreement and the terms and conditions set forth herein, and that it has read and understood the terms of the Agreement and has been given an opportunity to consult with counsel prior to executing this Agreement.


11. This Agreement may be executed in several counterparts, each of which shall be an original and shall constitute one and the same instrument.

12. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained in it shall be made available to any person by the Department or Georgetown on request.

13. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

14. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between Georgetown and the Department on the matters raised here, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement shall be enforceable. In the event a court of competent jurisdiction concludes that any part of this Agreement is unenforceable, such portion shall be severed from this Agreement and all other portions shall remain enforceable.

15. This Agreement is limited to the facts as set forth above, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law. This Agreement does not affect Georgetown's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.

16. The person signing for Georgetown represents that s/he is authorized to bind Georgetown to this Agreement.



Sam W. Wiesel, M.D.
Executive Vice President for
     Health Sciences
Georgetown University

Date __10/31/01_

Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

John L. Wodatch, Chief
Susan B. Reilly, Deputy Chief
Phyllis M. Cohen, Supervisory Attorney
Charles Harvey, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738
(202) 307-1055

Date __October 31, 2001_




I, __________________________, hereby agree that in consideration of Georgetown University's agreement to the terms set forth in the Settlement Agreement with the United States Department of Justice, I hereby release Georgetown University, and all of its officers, agents, directors, employees, board members, and representatives, as well as any affiliated entities, successors and assigns, without limitation from any and all legal claims arising from or related to the facts and circumstances described in the Settlement Agreement resolving Department of Justice complaint number 202-16-92 under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes, but is not limited to, all claims for monetary or equitable relief that I may have under federal, state, or local law. I have been advised that, before signing this release, I have the right to consult a private attorney regarding its contents. I have read this release and understand its contents, and choose to sign it of my own free will and not under duress.

AGREED TO AND SIGNED THIS___________DAY OF ________________, 2001

Donna Natalie Wilkes



March 21, 2006