ADA and ASHA resolve one dispute, but the legal battle continues

By David H. Kirkwood

PITTSBURGH–The Academy of Doctors of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) have reached an agreement on one of the issues raised by ADA in a suit filed August 2, 2011 against ASHA in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. However, other issues remain unresolved and the legal battle continues.

In its suit, reported on earlier by this blog, ADA sought an injunction against ASHA requiring it to correct what ADA charges were “fraudulent statements” made in letters to audiologists and on its web site about the consequences of not holding the Certification of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A). Audiologists are required to hold current certification to be members of ASHA.

Specifically, ADA charged that ASHA had misstated the facts when it told audiologists that if they did not maintain their CCC-A they “cannot supervise students in clinical practicum or during the clinical fellowship,” and that they “will be prohibited from providing or supervising the provision of clinical services.”

According to a public statement issued about the “mutually agreeable resolution” between the parties, “ASHA has agreed that in future statements which communicate the consequences of losing the CCC-A, it will use certain revised language or substantially similar languages to which ADA has agreed.” In view of its settlement with ASHA on the wording of correspondence with audiologists on this subject, ADA agreed to withdraw its motion for an injunction to prevent ASHA from sending such correspondence.

 

NO FAULT ADMITTED

Although it has agreed to revise the contested wording of its correspondence with audiologists, ASHA concedes no wrongdoing. The public statement on the agreement notes, “ASHA denies making any false or misleading statements and has moved to dismiss the lawsuit. Some of the issues have now been resolved, without any admission by ASHA of ADA’s allegations.”

The statement about the ADA-ASHA agreement also notes that the parties “must limit comments to those contained in this public statement.” So, neither party was able to comment on the significance of the agreement.

 

ADA REVISES ITS COMPLAINT

Despite resolving one issue, the case is far from settled. On February 15, ADA, which has approximately 1100 members, filed an amended complaint against ASHA, an organization of approximately 150,000 speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech and hearing scientists. In it, Robert Gippin, attorney for ADA, accused the organization of approximately 150,000 speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech and hearing scientists of fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

The complaint asks the federal court to require ASHA to “notify all persons who initially received and/or renewed their certification in the past four years that ASHA made false statements, that they will be corrected as described, and that the recipient may cancel his or her CCC-A certification retroactively for up to four years, receiving a refund with statutory interest of the fees that were paid for the years being canceled.”

The suit also asks for “any further relief as the Court deems just and proper to punish ASHA and to deter it from further wrongdoing, including but not limited to a declaration concerning such conduct and requiring ASHA to pay ADA’s reasonable attorney fees and costs in bringing this action.”