Settlement Reached in Americans with Disabilities Act Action

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December 12, 1997

(December 12, 1997, LOS ANGELES) -- The parties have resolved a lawsuit filed by a San Francisco Bay Area couple concerning insurance underwriting practices and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The San Francisco case, Doe v. Chubb Sovereign Life Insurance Co., was filed in April of 1996 on behalf of the couple, who proceeded anonymously in the suit, by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (a national non-profit organization advocating equal rights for lesbians, gay men and people with HIV and AIDS) and Lambda's cooperating attorneys at the Bay area law firm known as the Legal Strategies Group. The suit arose from the denial of an application for life insurance by an HIV-negative woman because her husband is HIV-positive.

The parties agreed that Lambda would release the following statement: The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. This includes discrimination against both those with disabilities and those who have a relationship or association with a disabled person. Among other things, the ADA prohibits businesses from applying "eligibility criteria" that tend to screen-out an individual with a disability (or a person associated with the disabled) from enjoying goods or services.

Currently, various courts have reached different conclusions regarding the scope of the ADA's applicability to insurance practices. What is clear, however, is that the ADA does not prohibit an insurer from underwriting risks in a manner that is consistent with state law. California law requires that such underwriting must be based on sound actuarial data or sound actuarial principles applied to currently accepted medical or epidemiological data. In light of the ADA, applicants for life insurance should not be denied an insurance policy because of their association with a disabled person, including someone who is HIV-positive.

(Doe v. Chubb Sovereign Insurance Co., Case No. C-96-1458-VRW, U.S. District Court, N.D. Cal.) - 30 -

Contact: Peg Byron, 212-809-8585, ext. 230, 888-987-1984(pager) Jon Davidson, 213-937-2728, ext. 228


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