Illinoisans, you better sit down before reading further.
On Jan. 1, 2024, a new law anti-socially constructed by Illinois’ worst lawmaker, lesbian Kelly Cassidy, took effect with some unfortunate assistance from Illinois House Republicans not one of whom voted against it.
The law, euphemistically titled the “Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act” (HB 2248), will open the floodgates of lawsuits from allegedly wronged leftists. The law states the following:
Whoever injures another by a violation of this act is liable for each and every offense for all remedies available at law, including but not limited to, damages for past, current and future … emotional pain … inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonmonetary losses, and any amount that may be determined by a jury, or a court sitting without a jury, but in no case less than $4,000, and any attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses, including, but not limited to, expert witness fees. (emphasis added)
Kelly and her leftist collaborators disingenuously claim that “The purpose of the Act is to restore in Illinois the full enjoyment of the civil rights unjustly limited by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision in [Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C.].”
In the 6-3 Cummings decision, the U.S. Supreme Court did not “unjustly” limit anyone’s “full enjoyment” of civil rights. Sarah Parshall Perry, senior legal counsel for the Heritage Foundation, explains the Cummings case:
Petitioner Jane Cummings, who is deaf and legally blind, had attempted to make a physical therapy appointment at Premier Rehab in Keller, Texas, for chronic back pain. Premier Rehab, a small business and a top rehabilitation clinic, is a recipient of federal funds.
Due to her disability, Cummings requested that Premier provide her with a sign language interpreter. Premier declined, instead offering to refer Cummings to a different clinic or provide alternative accommodations.
The alternative accommodations it offered—to communicate with Cummings through written notes, lip reading, and gesturing—were, she believed, insufficient to meet her needs. …
Cummings ultimately chose another provider that offered the accommodations she sought, but received treatment she believed to be “unsatisfactory.”
In August 2018, Cummings sued Premier Rehab, but sought damages only for her “emotional distress.” Both the trial court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that damages for emotional harm are not recoverable in private actions brought to enforce either of the two disability laws. The Supreme Court agreed.
Federal anti-discrimination law works like a contract with the federal government. Businesses that receive federal funding agree to comply with these laws, and in doing so, accept that they may be held liable for violating the laws. …
These laws include not just the Rehabilitation Act and Affordable Care Act, but also Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 … and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. …
And although these anti-discrimination statutes may be enforced by private suits and allow successful plaintiffs to recover monetary relief, that monetary relief must be in the form of “compensatory” damages—i.e., what the plaintiff actually lost in terms of physical harm or out-of-pocket expenses because of the discrimination.
By contrast, the Supreme Court has explained that punitive damages are not generally available for breach of contract because they can’t be foreseen at the time of contracting.
In the Cummings case, because both statutes were silent on the issue of emotional damages, and neither statute offered an indication of available damages for emotional distress, Premier Rehab did not have “clear notice” that it might be liable for such damages. …
As Roberts wrote: “[W]hen considering whether to accept federal funds, a prospective recipient would surely wonder not only what rules it must follow, but also what sort of penalties might be on the table.”
Perry makes clear the potential for mischief that Cassidy et al. hope to conceal:
The receipt of federal funds is often contingent on compliance with civil rights laws. So providers, companies, or schools that receive such funds could have been bankrupted had Cummings come out differently. That’s because some aggrieved plaintiff could claim to have suffered an emotional injury, but no physical or economic injury, as a result of an unforeseen violation of one of the two statutes.
The attachment of liability for strictly dignitary injuries (emotional, mental, or reputational harm) also could have let loose a torrent of frivolous claims for alleged violations of federal anti-discrimination law, likely extending beyond disability law.
After all, there is no shortage of precedent on the pretextual use of anti-discrimination law by plaintiffs claiming to have suffered emotional distress at the hands of business owners who hold traditional-but-unfashionable religious beliefs.
To better understand what Cassidy—who is faux-married to “genderqueer” Candace Gingrich who goes by the pronouns “they/them”—has tucked up her deceitful sleeve, think about which demographic has been abusing Title IX and Title VI. Which demographic uses government to restrict religious freedom and speech rights in the service of its sexual ideology? Which group composed of mentally and morally disordered men and women would like nothing more than to feign “emotional pain” and “loss of enjoyment of life” in order to sue the blazes out of anyone who refuses to use wrong pronouns?
That’s whose interests Cassidy’s law serves. Anyone who thinks Cassidy cares about deaf, legally blind Illinoisans being denied ASL interpreters by physical therapists is even more gullible than Cassidy thinks he or she is.