Eleventh Circuit: Mental Retardation is Not a Disability Under the ADA
Is this case a parody? No, it's an outrage. The Eleventh Circuit held, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, that an individual with mental retardation did not have a "disability" as defined by the ADA. Not only that, it held that the district court properly granted summary judgment against him on the "disability" issue. Here's a taste of the court's analysis:
The record shows that Littleton is able to read and comprehend and is able to perform various types of jobs. It is apparent that Littleton is somewhat limited in his ability to learn because of his mental retardation. However, he has pointed to no evidence which would create a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether he was substantially limited in the major life activity of learning because of his mental retardation.
It is unclear whether thinking, communicating and social interaction are “major life activities” under the ADA. We acknowledge that a review of Littleton’s deposition testimony is not inconsistent with his assertion that he sometimes has difficulty thinking or communicating. Even if thinking and communicating are major life activities, however, Littleton has not shown that he is substantially limited in those activities. As Wal-Mart contends, moreover, the fact that Littleton drives a car might be determined to be inconsistent with his assertion that his abilities to think and learn are substantially limited. Additionally, Littleton’s mother and Agee testified that Littleton is capable of being interviewed for a job without any accommodation, is “very verbal,” and would not need a job coach to communicate effectively with other people in the workforce. This bolsters Wal-Mart’s contention that any difficulty Littleton has with communicating does not appear to be a substantial limitation.We do not doubt that Littleton has certain limitations because of his mental retardation. In order to qualify as “disabled” under the ADA, however, Littleton has the burden of proving that he actually is, is perceived to be, or has a record of being substantially limited as to “major life activities” under the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12102(2)(A), 12112(a), 12132; see also Hilburn v. Murata Electronics North America, Inc., 181 F.3d 1220, 1227 (11th Cir. 1997). Assuming that thinking, communicating and social interaction are “major life activities” under the ADA, we conclude that Littleton has failed to create a genuine issue of material fact that he is substantially limited in those pursuits. Thus he has failed to assert a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA.