Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ninth Circuit Decides Interesting Definition-of-Disability Case

In Head v. Glacier Northwest, Inc., decided yesterday, the Ninth Circuit reversed a grant of summary judgment to the defendant employer on an ADA Title I plaintiff's actual disability claim. The plaintiff, who had depression or bipolar disorder, had introduced his own testimony about the severe effects that condition had on his ability to sleep, interact with others, think, and read. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer on the ground that the plaintiff had not presented any medical or comparative evidence about his disability. Reversing, the Ninth Circuit held that a plaintiff can overcome summary judgment on the "disability" question merely by presenting his own testimony about the effects of his impairment; medical or comparative evidence is not required. The court also found a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether the plaintiff's condition substantially limited major life activities. (The case also includes an extensive discussion of how the Supreme Court's decision in Desert Palace v. Costa applies in the ADA context.)


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