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  Western New York Law Center    

 

SELECTED SUPREME COURT
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

United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, 126 S.Ct 877(1/2006) Goodman, petitioner in No. 04-1236, is a paraplegic who sued respondent state defendants and others, challenging the conditions of his confinement in a Georgia prison under, inter alia, 42 U. S. C. 1983 and Title II of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990. As relevant here, the Federal District Court dismissed the 1983 claims because Goodman's allegations were vague, and granted respondents summary judgment on the Title II money damages claims because they were barred by state sovereign immunity. The United States, petitioner in No. 04-1203, intervened on appeal. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's judgment as to the Title II claims, but reversed the 1983 ruling, finding that Goodman had alleged facts sufficient to support a limited number of Eighth Amendment claims against state agents and should be permitted to amend his complaint. This Court granted certiorari to decide the validity of Title II's abrogation of state sovereign immunity. Held: Insofar as Title II creates a private cause of action for damages against States for conduct that actually violates the Fourteenth Amendment, Title II validly abrogates state sovereign immunity. Pp. 5-8.   (a) Because this Court assumes that the Eleventh Circuit correctly held that Goodman had alleged actual Eighth Amendment violations for purposes of 1983, and because respondents do not dispute Goodman's claim that this same conduct violated Title II, Goodman's Title II money damages claims were evidently based, at least in part, on conduct that independently violated 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. No one doubts that 5 grants Congress the power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment's provisions by creating private remedies against the States for actual violations of those provisions. This includes the power to abrogate state sovereign immunity by authorizing private suits for damages against the States. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit erred in dismissing those of Goodman's claims based on conduct that violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd., 545 U.S. 119, 125 S.Ct. 2169 (6/2005) The Fifth Circuit held that Title III does not apply to foreign-flag cruise ships in U. S. waters because of a presumption, which the court derived from, e.g., Benz v. Compania Naviera Hidalgo, S. A., 353 U. S. 138, and McCulloch v. Sociedad Nacional de Marineros de Honduras, 372 U. S. 10, that absent a clear indication of congressional intent, general statutes do not apply to foreign-flag ships. Emphasizing that Title III does not contain a specific provision mandating its application to such vessels, the court sustained the dismissal of the petitioners' barrier-removal claims and reversed on their remaining claims. Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.  Justice Kennedy delivered an opinion concluding that except insofar as Title III regulates a vessel's internal affairs, the statute is applicable to foreign-flag cruise ships in U. S. waters.

Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 124 S.Ct. 1978 (5/2004) Held: As it applies to the class of cases implicating the fundamental right of access to the courts, Title II constitutes a valid exercise of Congress' authority under 5 of the fourteenth Amendment to enforce that Amendment's substantive guarantees.

Clackamas Gastroenterology Associates, P. C. v. Wells, 538 U.S. 440, 123 S.Ct. 1673 (4/2003)  Respondent filed suit alleging that petitioner medical clinic violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA or Act) when it terminated her employment. Petitioner moved for summary judgment, asserting that it was not covered by the Act because it did not have 15 or more employees for the 20 weeks required by the ADA. That assertion's accuracy depends on whether the four physician-shareholders who own the professional corporation and constitute its board of directors are counted as employees. In granting the motion, the District Court concluded that the physicians were more analogous to partners in a partnership than to shareholders in a corporation and therefore were not employees under the ADA. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding no reason to permit a professional corporation to reap the tax and civil liability advantages of its corporate status and then argue that it is like a partnership so as to avoid employment discrimination liability. Because the District Court's findings appear to weigh in favor of concluding that the four physicians are not clinic employees, but evidence in the record may contradict those findings or support a contrary conclusion under the EEOC's standard, the case is remanded for further proceedings. Reversed and remanded.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Echazabal, 536 U.S. 73, 122 S.Ct. 2045 (6/2002)  Chevron defended under an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulation permitting the defense that a workers disability on the job would pose a direct threat to his health. The District Court granted Chevron summary judgment, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the regulation exceeded the scope of permissible rulemaking under the ADA. Held:The ADA permits the EEOCs regulation.

Barnes in her Official Capacity as member of the Boad of Poilice Commissioners of Kansas City Missouri, etal. v. Gorman, --- U.S., 122 S.Ct. 2097 (2002)  Court holds that Punitive damages may not be awarded in private suits brought under 202 of the ADA and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

US Airway, Inc. v. Barnett, 535 U.S. 391, 122 S.Ct.1516 (2002) In its question presented, US Airways asked whether the ADA requires an employer to assign adisabled employee to a particular position even though another employee is entitled to that position under the employers established seniority system. We answer that ordinarily the ADA does not require that assignment. Hence, a showing that the assignment would violate the rules of a seniority system warrants summary judgment for the employer unless there is more. The plaintiff must present evidence of that more, namely, special circumstances surrounding the particular case that demonstrate the assignment is nonetheless reasonable.

Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184, 122 S.Ct. 681 (2002) While the Sixth Circuit addressed the different major life activity of performing manual tasks, its analysis erroneously circumvented Sutton, supra, at 491, by focusing on respondents inability to perform manual tasks associated only with her job. Rather, the central inquiry must be whether the claimant is unable to perform the variety of tasks central to most peoples daily lives. Also without support is the Sixth Circuits assertion that the question whether an impairment constitutes a disability is to be answered only by analyzing the impairments effect in the workplace. That the Acts disability definition applies not only to the portion of the ADA dealing with employment, but also to the other provisions dealing with public transportation and public accommodations, demonstrates that the definition is intended to cover individuals with disabling impairments regardless of whether they have any connection to a workplace. Moreover, because the manual tasks unique to any particular job are not necessarily important parts of most peoples lives, occupation-specific tasks may have only limited relevance to the manual task inquiry. In this case, repetitive work with hands and arms extended at or above shoulder levels for extended periods, the manual task on which the Sixth Circuit relied, is not an important part of most peoples daily lives. Household chores, bathing, and brushing ones teeth, in contrast, are among the types of manual tasks of central importance to peoples daily lives, so the Sixth Circuit should not have disregarded respondents ability to do these activities.

PGA Tour Inc. v. Martin, 532 U.S. 661, 121 S.Ct.1879 (2001) Golfer Casey Martin has a right under the ADA to use a golf cart between shots.

Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 121 S.Ct.955 (2001) Suits in federal Court by state employees to recover money damages by reason of the State's failure to comply with Title I of the ADA are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

Kimel v.Florida Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 120 S.CT. 631 (2000)   The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it unlawful for an employer, including a State, "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual. Although the ADEA does contain a clear statement of Congress' intent to abrogate the States' immunity, that abrogation exceeded Congress' authority under 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ADEA is not "appropriate legislation" under 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ADEA's purported abrogation of the States' sovereign immunity is accordingly invalid. (Not an ADA/504 Case but ultimately critical to the application of the ADA/504 to the states.)

Alden, et. al. v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 119 S.Ct. 2240 (1999)  The States' immunity from private suit in their own courts is beyond congressional power to abrogate by Article I legislation. (Not an ADA/504 Case but ultimately critical to the application of the ADA/504 to the states.)

OLMSTEAD v. L. C. ex rel. Ziming., 527U.S.581, 119 S.Ct. 2176 (1999)  Court held that the ADA stepped up earlier efforts in the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to secure opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to enjoy the benefits of community living. The ADA both requires all public entities to refrain from discrimination, see 12132, and specifically identifies unjustified "segregation" of persons with disabilities as a "for[m] of discrimination,"

Albertson, Inc. v. Kirkingburg, 527 U.S. 555, 119 S.Ct. 2162, (1999) Court held some impairments may invariably cause a substantial limitation of a major life activity, but monocularity is not one of them, for that category embraces a group whose members vary by, e.g., the degree of visual acuity in the weaker eye, the extent of their compensating adjustments, and the ultimate scope of the restrictions on their visual abilities.

Murphy v. United Parcel Services, 527 U.S. 516, 119 S.Ct. 2133 (1999) Court held plaintff with hig blood pressure was not disable within the meaning of the ADA because he can bring his blood pressure down with medication.

Sutton, et. al. v. United Airlines, 527 U.S. 471, 119 S.Ct. 2139 (1999)   Court held plaintiffs with extreme nearsightedness were not disabled under the meaning of the ADA because their condition was correctable with contact lenses or glasses.

Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp. 526 U.S. 795, 119S.Ct 1597 (1999).  Pursuit, and receipt of SSDI benefits does not automatically estop a recipient from pursuing an ADA claim

Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., 119 S.Ct. 391 (1998)A collective bargaining agreement's general arbitration clause does not require Wright to use the arbitration procedure for alleged violation of the ADA.

Bragdon v. Abbott, 524 U.S. 624, 118 S.Ct. 2196 (1998). Even though respondent's HIV infection had not progressed to the so-called symptomatic phase, it was a "disability" under 12102(2)(A), that is, "a physical . . . impairment that substantially limits one or more of [an individual's] major life activities."

Pennsyvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 118 S.Ct. 1952 (1998).  State prisons fall squarely within the ADA's Title II's statutory definition of "public entity," which includes "any . . . instrumentality of a State . . . or local government." 12131(1)(B).

Traynor v. Turnage, 485 U.S. 535, 108 S.Ct. 1372 (1988).  Veterans’ Administration regulations defining alcoholism as "willful misconduct" did not violate 504. Ten year extension of GI Bill for disability was denied to those whose disability was alcoholism. There is nothing in the rehabilitation Act that requires that any benefit extended to one category of handicapped persons also be extended to all other categories of handicapped persons.

School Bd. of Nassau County, Fla. v. Arline, 480 U.S. 273, 107 S.Ct. 1123 (1987).  The court found that a person afflicted with tuberculosis is a handicapped individual within the meaning of 504. Whether plaintiff was otherwise qualified was remanded to the district court to determine the duration and severity of plaintiff’s condition as well as the probability she could transmit the disease. Also to determine if plaintiff was contagious at the time she was discharged or if she could have been reasonable accommodated.

U.S. Dept. of Transp. v. Paralyzed Veterans of America, 477 U.S. 597, 106 S.Ct. 2705 (1986).   504 does not apply to commercial airlines because airports receive federal funds making airlines indirect recipients. Airlines do not receive funds. Air traffic control system does not constitute ""federal financial assistance."

Bowen v. American Hosp. Ass'n, 476 U.S. 610, 106 S.Ct. 2101 (1986).  A hospital’s withholding of treatment from a handicapped infant when no parental consent has been given cannot violate 504 for without parental consent the infant is neither "otherwise qualified" nor has he been denied care "solely by reason of his handicap." There was no example of a hospital as opposed to a parent withholding medical care on the basis of handicap.

Alexander v. Choate, 469 U.S. 287, 105 S.Ct. 712 (1985).  Tennessee proposed to reduce the number of hospital days Medicaid would pay for from 20 to 14. The court held that the reduction did not violate 504 even it had a disproportionate impact on the handicapped. The 14 day limit is neutral on its face and is not alleged to rest on a discriminatory motive. The state is not required to assure the handicapped "adequate health care" by providing them with more coverage than the non-handicapped.

Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Darrone, 465 U.S. 624, 104 S.Ct. 1248 (1984).  Plaintiff was entitled to recover back pay in a 504 employment discrimination case even though the employer did not receive federal aid for the primary purpose of promoting employment. The mere receipt of federal funds was sufficient.

Southeastern Community College v. Davis 442 U.S. 397, 99 S.Ct. 2361 (1979).  First Supreme Court 504 Case. Court held that 504 did not compel college to undertake affirmative action that would dispense with need for effective oral communication in the college’s nursing program so that student with a bilateral, sensory-neural hearing loss could be included in that program. It appeared unlikely plaintiff could benefit from any affirmative action as required with regard to modifications of programs to accommodate handicapped person and the provision of auxiliary aids such as sign language interpreters. Situation may arise where a refusal to modify an existing program might become unreasonable and discriminatory.