AUGUSTA — A human rights panel sided 3-1 Monday with a man who said he was a victim of disability discrimination when an optometrist in South Portland failed to provide him with a qualified interpreter during an eye exam.

Kevin Myshrall, 44, of Andover, who is deaf, filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission against Peter Morse and Peter F. Morse Inc.

According to a report by a commission investigator, Myshrall said he requested an interpreter when he booked the appointment, and none was present when he arrived at the office on March 24, 2010.

“It seemed a straightforward case of Dr. Morse denying him accommodation that was requested for the appointment,” said Sean Ociepka, an attorney for the Disability Rights Center of Maine, who represented Myshrall.

Ociepka said Myshrall later went to a different optometrist.

Stephen Langsdorf, the attorney who represented Morse, said he disagreed with the commission’s finding.


“Apparently there was a misunderstanding as to whether Mr. Myshrall was going to be bringing an interpreter with him, and he became angry and stormed out,” Langsdorf said.

He said the law requires effective communication, not necessarily an interpreter.

“The doctor had experience working with patients in writing, but he never had a chance,” Langsdorf said.

“You can’t say working through an interpreter orally is as effective as one-to-one written communication.”

According to the investigator’s report, Morse has practiced optometry for 30 years and treated hearing-impaired patients, usually using a notepad to exchange written communication.

Commission findings are not law, but may become grounds for lawsuits.


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