Levorsen v. Octapharma Plasma, No. 14-4162 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
At issue in this case was the interpretation of 42 U.S.C. 12181(7)(F), which makes certain "service establishments" public accommodations for purposes of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title III, in turn, generally prohibits public accommodations from discriminating against individuals on the basis of disability. Brent Levorsen suffered from various psychiatric disorders, including borderline schizophrenia. For years, Levorsen has donated plasma in exchange for money in an effort to supplement his limited income. And in May 2013, he attempted to do just that at a Salt Lake City branch of Octapharma Plasma, Inc. When an Octapharma employee learned that Levorsen suffers from borderline schizophrenia, the employee became concerned that Levorsen might have a schizophrenic episode while donating and dislodge the collecting needle, possibly injuring himself or someone else. The employee thus advised Levorsen that he was ineligible to donate plasma. Levorsen then provided Octapharma with a signed form from his psychiatrists, who both indicated that Levorsen is medically suitable to donate plasma twice a week. When Octapharma maintained its refusal to allow Levorsen to donate, he brought this action under Title III of the ADA. The district court concluded that plasma-donation centers (PDCs) aren’t service establishments because, unlike section 12181(7)(F)’s enumerated examples, PDCs don’t provide a service to the public in exchange for a fee. The Tenth Circuit found this "superficial distinction" irrelevant. Under the plain language of section 12181(7)(F), a PDC was a "'service establishment' for two exceedingly simple reasons: It’s an establishment. And it provides a service." Because the district court erred in concluding otherwise, and in dismissing the underlying action on that basis, the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings.