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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES MOVING COMPANY FOR REFUSING SERVICE TO NEIGHBORS OF A PERSON WITH AIDS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued an Illinois-based moving company that allegedly refused to provide moving services in Philadelphia to two former residents because a neighbor, who was present at the moving site, was infected with the AIDS virus. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, alleged that in July 1994, the Bekins Van Lines Company of Hillside, Illinois, and Schloer Enterprises, its local agent in Philadelphia, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing service to two individuals who were moving from Philadelphia to Scottsdale, Arizona. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick said that a Bekins crew arrived at the home of David Homan and began to assess the property to be moved. When the company employees encountered a neighbor whom they believed had AIDS, they refused to load any of the belongings. "Denying someone service because they or their neighbor has AIDS defies both logic and the law," said Patrick. Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as moving companies, from discriminating against persons who have an association with individuals with disabilities. Testing positive for HIV or having AIDS is considered a disability under the ADA. The Justice Department began an investigation after receiving a complaint from another individual present during the incident who was denied service. The Department filed the suit only after the defendants refused to cooperate with the investigation and rejected efforts to settle the matter out of court. The suit seeks a court order prohibiting Bekins from discriminating against persons with disabilities or their associates. The suit also seeks penalties, and damages for the residents and their neighbor. Last year the Justice Department reached an ADA settlement with the Philadelphia Emergency Medical Services after they refused services to an injured individual with AIDS. The Department also reached settlements with dentists in Houston, New Orleans, and Connecticut who refused to treat patients who were HIV positive or had AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS can only be transmitted by sexual contact with an infected individual, exposure to infected blood or blood products, and from an infected mother to her infant. There is no evidence that AIDS can be transmitted through casual contact. # # # 95-550