Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, PLLC, No. 19-10169 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Emotional distress damages are not available under the Rehabilitation Act (RA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In this case, plaintiff filed suit against Premier, a federal funding recipient, for disability discrimination.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Premier's motion to dismiss, holding that because punitive damages are unavailable for a funding recipient's "breach" of its Spending Clause "contract," despite the existence of exceptions to the general prohibition against such damages, emotional distress damages are unavailable for a funding recipient's "breach" of the RA or the ACA, despite the existence of exceptions. The court did not believe that it was within its power to expand the Spending Clause contract-law analogy, which would expose federal funding recipients to greater liability. The court found that the Bell rule was not a vehicle for importing remedies that have already been rejected.