Western New York Law Center
SELECTED 4th CIRCUIT COURT
OF APPEALS ADA/504 CASES
Cases highlited in blue are linked to the actual decision in Findlaw
Return to Selected Americans With Disabilities Act/504 Cases Court's Index
Bacon v. City of Richmond, Virginia,
475 F.3d 633 (1/2007)
In this case we are asked to decide
whether a city may be required to fund a federal court order mandating the
system-wide retrofitting of city schools, under Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
12131-34 (2000), without any determination
that the city discriminated against or otherwise excluded plaintiffs from its vservices and activities. Recognizing the fundamental precept that remedies
may be imposed only upon a party judged liable for some harm, we reverse the
judgment of the district court. To impose a funding obligation on the city in
the absence of any underlying finding of liability would disrespect the
long-standing structure of local government and impair the Commonwealth’s
ability to structure its state institutions and run its schools.
Colombo Savings Bank, F.S.B., 434 F.3d 249 (1/2006) James Heiko brings suit
against his former employer, Colombo Savings Bank, alleging a failure to promote and
constructive discharge on the basis of disability. At the time of the alleged
discrimination, Heiko suffered from end-stage renal disease - near complete kidney
failure and spent three afternoons per week, for a total of twelve hours, attached
to a dialysis machine that removed fatal toxins from his blood. The district court granted
summary judgment for Colombo, holding that Heiko was not disabled under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) because the elimination of bodily waste is not a "major life
activity." See 42 U.S.C.
12102(2)(A) (2000). It also held in the
alternative that even if Heiko was disabled, he had not proffered facts sufficient to
support a finding of discrimination. We hold that elimination of bodily waste is a
"major life activity" within the meaning of the ADA. With respect to the
allegations of discrimination, summary judgment was improper on the claim of failure to
promote, because Heiko has presented a strong prima facie case of disability
discrimination and considerable evidence of job qualifications superior to those of the
person selected in his stead. Summary judgment was proper, however, on the allegation of
constructive discharge. We therefore affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for
v. Federal Express Corp., 429 F.3d 461, (11/2005) To hold that in the face of
such evidence a factfinder could conclude that Taylor was substantially limited in the
major life activity of working would be to ignore the Supreme Court's recent directive in Toyota.
There the Court emphasized that the terms "substantially limits" and "major
life activity" "need to be interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard
for qualifying as disabled." Toyota, 534 U.S. at 197; see also Mahon v.
Crowell, 295 F.3d 585, 592 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding that evidence that plaintiff's
impairment caused a 47 percent loss of access to the job market was insufficient to
establish a disability). Given that Taylor admittedly retains the ability to engage in a
wide range of daily activity and to work in over 100,000 jobs in his geographic
region, a reasonable juror could not find that his impairment substantially limits his
ability to work, or for that reason renders him disabled for purposes of the ADA.
v. Rectors and Visitors of George Mason University, 411 F.3d 474 (6/2005) We
conclude that the Eleventh Amendment poses no bar to Constantine's claims because Congress
validly abrogated the States' immunity to suit under Title II of the ADA; the State waived
its immunity to suit under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act with respect to GMU; and the Ex
parte Young doctrine permits an action for prospective injunctive relief to remedy a
violation of § 504. We further conclude that Constantine's complaint adequately alleges
claims for disability discrimination in violation of Title II of the ADA and
504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, as well as a First Amendment retaliation claim under
Redwood Trust LLC, 392 F.3d 661 (12/2004) "[i]n alterations,
accessibility to . . . dining areas . . . is not required provided that the same services
and decor are provided in an accessible space usable by the general public and are not
restricted to use by people with disabilities." 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, app. A
term "alteration" is defined as "a change to a building . . . [including]
remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historical restoration, changes or
rearrangement of the structural parts or elements, and changes or rearrangement in the
plan configuration of walls and full-height partitions." 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, app. A
3.5. Though Redwood Trust concedes that the renovations to the building were extensive,
they are, nonetheless, renovations. There is no evidence in the record of any new
construction; all of the renovations involved changes to the existing structure to allow
it to function as a restaurant and night club. We are of opinion that the lengthy set of
terms defining alteration were intended to cover renovations, like those to the Redwood
Trust building, that are extensive but did not involve new construction. See 28 C.F.R. pt.
3.5 Accordingly, we find that the renovations to the Redwood Trust
building were "alterations" under guideline
3.5 and 5.4. We also find that the
record shows no difference in the services or decor between the first and second floor
dining areas. Therefore, we find that the district court's grant of summary judgment was
Networks Presentations LLC, 375 F.3d 266 (7/2004) Because Rohan has failed to
demonstrate that she is substantially limited in a major life activity, or that Networks
regarded her as substantially limited, she is not within the ADA's protected class. As
such, she cannot state a claim under the ADA. An employer "is free to decide that
some limiting, but not substantially limiting, impairments make individuals less
than ideally suited for a job." Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471,
490 (1999). On this basis, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to
Networks on Rohan's ADA claims.
v. Upper Chesapeake Health, Inc. 313 F.3d 205 (12/2002) Dr. Linda
Freilich is a physician. Harford Memorial Hospital decided to terminate Dr. Freilich's
medical staff privileges after undertaking an extensive review of her application for
reappointment. Dr. Freilich then filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of
the federal statute granting immunity to peer review participants and the Maryland
physician credentialing statutes. In addition, Dr. Freilich alleged violations of both the
Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and made various other common
law claims. Dr. Freilich's complaint is an attempt to have a federal court supervise what
amounts to little more than a physician-hospital dispute over hospital policies and the
expenditure of hospital resources. We affirm the judgment of the district court dismissing
v. High's of Baltimore, Inc., 281 F.3d 462 (2/2002) Plaintiff Mary Pollard
claims that defendant High's of Baltimore, Inc. violated her rights under the Americans
with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by failing to accommodate her disability and by
constructively discharging her. Pollard also claims that she was wrongfully discharged
under Maryland law. The district court granted summary judgment to High's. Because
Pollard's impairment during her recovery from back surgery was a temporary one not covered
by the ADA, and because High's did not wrongfully discharge her, we affirm the judgment of
the district court.
v. University of North Carolina, 263 F.3d 95 (8/2001) In this case, however,
we are not required to determine the deference to which UNC-W's decisions might be
entitled, because Davis has failed to make a prima facie showing that she is disabled
within the meaning of the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act by failing to present any evi-
dence from which it could be inferred that UNC-W regarded her as being substantially
limited in any major life activity. Accordingly, the district court's order
granting summary judgment in favor UNC- W is affirmed.
v. F.D.I.C., 257 F.3d 373 (12/2001) Lori Denise Rhoads appeals from the
judgment rendered against her on her claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29
2601-2654 ("FMLA"); the employment provisions of the Americans
with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
12101-12117, 12203 ("ADA"); and Maryland
state law. The district court granted summary judgment to the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation ("FDIC"), in its capacity as representative of Rhoads's former
employers, on her ADA claims -- for failure to make reasonable accommodations, dis-
criminatory termination, and retaliation -- as well as the state law claims. See Rhoads
v. FDIC, 956 F. Supp. 1239 (D. Md. 1997). A jury subsequently found in the FDIC's
favor on the FMLA claim, see Order of Judgment, No. B-94-1548 (D. Md. Mar. 4,
1998), and the court denied Rhoads's motion for judgment as a matter of law or,
alternatively, for a new trial, see Order, No. B-94-1548 (D. Md. Aug. 12, 1998). As
explained below, we affirm the district court in every respect except for its award of
summary judgment on the ADA retali- ation claim, which we vacate and remand for further
v. Michelin North America, 252 F.3d 696 (5/2001) In this case, William
Haulbrook appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment rejecting his claims
under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C.A.
12101 et seq.
(West 1995), against defendant-appellees Michelin North America, Inc. ("MNA")
and Michelin Americas Research & Development Corp. ("MARC"). Haulbrook
argues that disputed issues of material fact precluded the district court from granting
summary judgment in favor of MARC and MNA on his discriminatory termination and
retaliation claims under the ADA. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259 (5/2001) The Court affirms the district
court's Opinion granting summary judgment on all of Hooven-Lewis' claims. Hooven-Lewis
does not have a disability under the RA because her hand tremor does not sub- stantially
limit her in any major life activity. Hooven-Lewis' ability to work in laboratories
handling non-infectious and non-hazardous materials, and her ability to do administrative
work, demonstrate that she can still do work in her field. Therefore, Hooven-Lewis is not
lim- ited from work in general or in the class of jobs for which she is trained. The
evidence also demonstrates that the Army did not regard Hooven-Lewis as disabled, because
it believed that Hooven-Lewis could do the particular work that she asserted that she
could not do. Moreover, the Army did not regard Hooven-Lewis as being unable to perform
the life activity of doing work in general because the Army placed Hooven-Lewis in
positions in the Logistics Division, the library, and the Gastroenterology Department.
Therefore, Hooven- Lewis cannot make out a prima facie case of discrimination under the
Rehabilitation Act. In addition, Hooven-Lewis has not made out a prima facie
case of retaliation for protected activities under the Rehabilitation Act. Hooven-Lewis
has not demonstrated a causal connection between any protected activity and her transfer
out of Retrovirology, or between her protected activity and her removal from civil
employment with the Army.
v. General Motors Corp., 247 F.3d 169 (4/2001) Moreover, the harassment
Fox suffered was far more severe and pervasive than the harassment experienced by the
plaintiffs in the cases cited by GM. In each of those cases, the court noted that the
incidents relied on by the plaintiffs to create a hostile work environ- ment were too
"isolated," Wallin, 153 F.3d at 688, or amounted to no more than "a
few harsh words." McConathy , 131 F.3d at 564; see also Cannice,
189 F.3d at 726 (harassment not severe or pervasive where only two incidents "could
even colorably be connected" to plaintiff's disability). Here, we are presented with
evidence not of a few isolated incidents of harsh language, teasing, or insensitivity, but
rather of regular verbal harassment and occasional physical
harassment over a period of nearly ten months directed at Fox
because of his disability. In sum, Fox presented
evidence of objectively severe and pervasive workplace harassment.
We, therefore, cannot disturb the jury's finding in his favor. Given Fox's
testimony as to the specific nature of his "emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience,
mental anguish, [and] loss of enjoyment of life," 42 U.S.C.
1981a(b)(3), and the
corroboration of his claim by medical professionals, we cannot conclude that the $200,000
award was "grossly excessive or shocking to the conscience". O'Rourke,
235 F.3d at 733. See also Hogan v. Bangor & Aroostook R.R. Co., 61 F.3d
1034, 1037-38 (1st Cir. 1995) (upholding $200,000 compensatory damages award to ADA
plaintiff who"became depressed, withdrawn, and gave up his usual activities" due
to employer's refusal to allow him to return to work after work-related injury).
v. Tidewater Transp. Dist. Com'n, 242 F.3d 227 (3/2001) After L.
Douglas Brinn, Ken Jessup, Steven Jackson, and Joyce Williams, obtained an advantageous
settlement of their claims against Tidewater Transportation District Commission under the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, they sought
attorney's fees. The district court awarded them $29,506.24 in attorney's fees. Tidewater
appeals, not disputing the reasonableness of the amount of the fee award, but contending
that the award of any attorney's fees in this case violates state and federal law. For the
reasons set forth below, we affirm.
v. Sara Lee Corp., 237 F.3d 349 (2000) The Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) appeals a decision holding that Vanessa Turpin was not disabled under
the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC further appeals the holding that if Turpin
was disabled, Sara Lee Corporation satisfied its duty of reasonable accommodation under
the ADA. Because the facts of this case show that Turpin was not substantially limited in
a major life activity, and because the ADA does not require an employer to devi- ate from
its nondiscriminatory seniority policy in order to accommo- date a worker, we affirm the
judgment of the district court.
v. Marley, Co., 233 F.3d 825 (2000) In sum, Reeves does not
assist Rowe because he failed to demonstrate, with respect to any of his federal claims,
that Marley's proffered non-discriminatory reasons for discharging him were pretextual.
Because Rowe did not demonstrate that Marley's explanation for his discharge was
pretextual, there is no evidence from which to infer that the real reason for his
termination was illegal discrimination. Given this, the rule announced in Reeves,
120 S. Ct. at 2109 -- that a court cannot always require "additional, independent
evidence of discrimination" -- does not affect the outcome of this case. Rather, it
is Rowe's failure to demonstrate pretext on Marley's part that dooms his federal claims.
v. Stowe-Pharr Mills, Inc., 216 F.3d 373 (2000) The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Stowe-Pharr Mills, Inc. (Stowe-Pharr) under Title I of
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991,
alleging that Stowe-Pharr had taken discriminatory employment action against its former
employee, Catherine Treece. The district court granted summary judgment to Stowe-Pharr,
concluding that Treece's statement ("I [am] unable to work") in her Social
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application judicially estopped the EEOC from
asserting that Treece was a "qualified individual with a disability" under the
ADA. A new Supreme Court case, decided after the district court ruled, requires a
different approach: under Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corporation, 526
U.S. 795 (1999), a plaintiff is permitted to explain an apparent conflict between her
SSDI and ADA claims. After considering the parties' briefs and arguments, which take Cleveland
into account, we conclude that the EEOC has made a sufficient explanation and proffer on
Treece's behalf to avoid summary judgment on the "qualified individual" element
of the ADA claim. Accordingly, we reverse the award of summary judgment to Stowe-Pharr and
remand for further proceedings.
v. Kmart Corp., 180 F.3d 166 (1999) In Rogers v. DHEC , No. 97-2780,
1999 WL 193895 (4th Cir. April 8, 1999), we held that Title II, § 202 of the Americans
With Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, does not require a long-term
disability plan that is sponsored by a public entity to provide the same level of benefits
for mental and physical disabilities. In the present appeal, this court is called upon to
decide whether the same holds true under Title I, § 102(a) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §
12112(a), when the plan's sponsor is a private employer. We hold it does.
v. Department of Health and Environmental Control, 174 F.3d 431 (1999) The key question in this case is whether Title II of the Americans With
Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA or Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12132- 12134 (1994), requires a
state's long-term disability plan to provide equal benefits for mental and physical
disabilities. We hold that it does not.
v. American Postal Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417 (1999) Although Jones wins the battle over subject matter jurisdiction, he
ultimately loses the war. The district court should have granted the Defendants' motion
for summary judgment. The law is well settled that the ADA is not violated when an
employer discharges an individual based upon the employee's misconduct, even if the
misconduct is related to a disability. See Martinson v. Kinney Shoe Corp. , 104
F.3d 683, 686 n.3 (4th Cir. 1997); Collings v. Longview Fibre Co. , 63 F.3d 828,
832-33 (9th Cir. 1995); Despears v. Milwaukee County , 63 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir.
1995); Maddox v. University of Tenn. , 62 F.3d 843, 846-48 (6th Cir. 1995); cf.
Little v. FBI , 1 F.3d 255, 259 (4th Cir. 1993) (finding no liability under the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when firing for disability related intoxication on duty).
Assuming Butts made the alleged discriminatory comments at issue to Postal Service
officials and she represented the Defendants in doing so, there is absolutely no evidence
to suggest that the Postal Service discharged Jones for any reason other than the fact
that he threatened the life of his supervisor. Because the ADA does not require an
employer to ignore such egregious misconduct by one of its employees, even if the
misconduct was caused by the employee's disability, we remand this case to the district
court for entry of judgment in favor of the Defen- dants.
v. Radcliffe, 167 F.3d 873 (1999). Court held that a traditional Japanese style martial arts school could
deny admission to a minor who carried HIV because his condition would pose a direct threat
to health or safety of others within meaning f exception to ADA and neither softening
teaching style nor enhancing safety precautions were reasonable modifications required
under the ADA.
v. North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, 166 F.3d 698 (1999). ADA regulation forbidding North Carolina from charging $1.00 per year for
handicapped parking placards violates States 11th Amendment sovereign immunity.
v. Abacus Technology Corp., 128 F.3d 191 (1997). Plaintiff was not disabled under the ADA. Extending the statutory
protections available under the ADA to individuals with broken bones, sprained joints,
sore muscles, infectuous diseases or other ailments that temporarily limit an individual's
ability to work would trivialize its lofty objectives.
v. NationsBank of Maryland, N.A., 123 F.3d 156 (1997). Asymptomatic
HIV infection is not a disability.
v. Channel Master Satellite Systems, Inc., 101 F.3d 346 (1996). Plaintiff
failed to establish she was disabled under the ADA. Court held that as a matter of law, a
25 pound lifting limitation - particularly when compared to an average person's abilities
- does not constitute a significant restriction on one's ability to lift, work or perform
any other major life activity.
v. National Ass'n of Business and Educational Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55 (1995).
Plaintiff failed to show that she was performing her job at a level that met employer's
legitimate expectations or that the circumstances of her discharge indicate the employer
discriminated on the basis of plaintiff's disability.
v. University of Maryland Medical System Corp., 50 F.3d 1261 (1995). A
hospital does not violate the ADA or 504 when it terminates an HIV-positive neurosurgical
resident based upon the risk of transmission of the disease during the performance of
exposure-prone procedures. Such individuals pose a significant risk to the health or
safety of their patients that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.
v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d 1376 (1995). Plaintiff
failed to show that under 504 his disability limits a major life activity nor that the
sole reason for his discharge was his disability.
Tyndall v. National Educ. Centers, Inc. of California, 31 F.3d 823. (1994).
Court held that discharge of disabled employee who was
frequently absent from work due to her disability and her son's disability did not violate
ADA. Plaintiff was not able to meet attendance requirements of her job despite her
employer's efforts to accommodate her disabling condition.
Pandazides v. Virginia Bd. of Educ., 13 F.3d 823 (1994). Plaintiff
who brings action under 504 is entitled to trial by jury.
Burke County Board of Educ. v. Denton By and through Denton, 895 F.2d 973
(1990). Purpose of rehabilitation act
is to prevent discrimination against handicapped. It is not intended to impose an
affirmative obligation on all recipients of federal funds. No violation of rehabilitation
act or civil rights statutes in failing to provide handicapped student with habilitative
services in his home.