A mental health activist has sued the “Dr. Phil” talk show, claiming it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of him.
Neal David Sutz of Mesa, Ariz., filed a lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix last week in connection with his effort to attend a taping of psychologist Phil McGraw’s syndicated series in 2003.
Sutz, a paralegal student, and other prospective audience members were asked to sign a waiver attesting that they didn’t suffer a mental illness and weren’t under psychiatric care, according to the lawsuit.
Sutz, who’s been treated for bipolar (affective) disorder, informed a show representative of his condition and was told that he could watch the taping if he didn’t talk to McGraw or participate in the program. He declined.
In his lawsuit against McGraw and producer Paramount Domestic Television, Sutz alleges that their actions “clearly and brazenly disregarded” the section of the federal disabilities act banning discrimination on the basis of disability.
The studio and McGraw declined comment Thursday, a spokesman said.
While acknowledging the studio told him it had changed the waiver’s language, Sutz contended he suffered mental and emotional anguish and sought an injunction to “permanently assure no further such discrimination targeted at the disabled.”
He also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice in which he asked the department’s help in filing another lawsuit to gain compensatory and punitive damages.
Sutz noted in the complaint that a plaintiff’s filing under the federal disabilities act, such as his federal lawsuit in Phoenix, is ineligible for financial compensation.