Hinojosa v Livingston (2014) H&FLR 2014-28

Ramona Hinojosa v Brad Livingston and Ors (2014) H&FLR 2014-28

United States District Court (S.D. Texas)

16 January 2014

Coram: Ramos J

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Jeff Edwards (of Edwards Law)
Appearing for the Defendants: Not identified.

Catchwords: Texas – prison – negligence – hyperthermia – hypertension – diabetes – depression – schizophrenia – obesity – death – Americans with Disabilities Act – Rehabilitation Act – Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Facts:  On 29 August 2012 the plaintiff’s son died of hyperthermia while incarcerated in a prison operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had failed to accommodate the deceased’s disabilities (particularised as hypertension, diabetes, depression, schizophrenia and obesity), resulting in his death.  It was contended that this breached the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USC §12132) and the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC §794), giving her a entitlement to recover damages.

The defendant applied to dismiss the proceedings for failure to state a claim under r. 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or alternatively that she be required to re-plead sufficient facts to identify the elements of her causes of action under the Acts.

Held: Denying the application, that –

1.  It was sufficient to state a claim for the plaintiff to allege that the defendant knew of the risks and dangers of certain health conditions and medications, that it knew the deceased suffered from those conditions and used those medications, and that despite having that knowledge, the defendant failed to make reasonable accommodations, as a result of which the deceased suffered greater pain and punishment than non-disabled prisoners (i.e. death).  Although all inmates faced the same environmental conditions, they were more burdensome for the deceased because of his disabilities.

2.  If a defendant knows of an individual’s disability and needs but takes no action, it will not be necessary for the disabled person to have requested an accommodation to state a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

McCoy v Texas Department of Criminal Justice, CA No. C-05-370 (S.D. Tex. May 19, 2006), followed

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.

Whittaker v America’s Car-Mart Inc. (2014) H&FLR 2014-7

Whittaker v America’s Car-Mart Inc. (2014) H&FLR 2014-7

United States District Court (E.D. Missouri)

24 April 2014

Coram: Limbaugh DJ

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Mr Mark Welker of Jackson & Welker)

Appearing for the Defendant: Not identified.

Catchwords: Missouri – termination of employment – obesity – Americans with Disabilities Act – disability – discrimination

Facts: The plaintiff commenced employment with the defendant in August 2005.  He was dismissed from the position of General Manager on 1 November 2012.  He alleged that he was dismissed by reason of his severe obesity which he asserted was a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (Act).  He did not require any special provision to be made by his employer in order to discharge his duties.

The defendant applied to dismiss the discrimination proceeding on the basis that severe obesity is not a disability under the Act unless it relate to an underlying physiological condition.

Held, dismissing the application,

(1) The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act 2008 (Amending Act) requires “disability” to be construed in favour of broad coverage of claimants.

Toyota Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc v Williams, 534 US 184 (2002), disapproved.

(2) Because of the expanded coverage effected by the Amending Act, it was open to argue that obesity can be a disability.

Lowe v American Eurocopter LLC, No. 1: 10CV24-AD (N.D. Miss. Dec. 16, 2010), followed.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.