This is an interesting decision, because an ADA plaintiff requested special accommodations for her condition (some one to speak for her when she could not speak properly– a note taker, podium, additional recesses, an interpreter to speak on her behalf, etc.) Apparently, the plaintiff had some sort of speech disability which was quite severe by the time of trial. Some requests were granted and other were not.
Obviously this Plaintiff did not exhaust her appeals in state court. The plaintiff’s counsel argued this was catch 22, but this does not seem so. She argued it in a post trial motion rather than filing a new case in federal court. She did not file an appeal in state court on those issues. Rather, she filed in federal court. This court was worried that state court litigants could just skip state court when they had a beef about the ADA and come right to federal court. Is that really such a bad idea? Also, the Plaintiff has the right to choose the forum for presenting a claim. This would mean that all disputes over reasonable accommodation would always stay in state court where one litigant’s case already exists, even though the ADA likely has nothing to do with the underlying state court claim.
The trial court judge said that he thought the jury liked her and did not have a problem understanding her and her case.
I want to thank Gloria for sending this along. The argument is very intersting and I think it’s good that the oral argument was considered.
The judge asked if he had a problem with her complicated medical issues, but this federal court judge thought the trial court judge should have appointed a medical advisor. The federal court Justice said that not to do so was “incredibly naive”. She thought it was not and should not be the purview of trial court judges to determine medical issues and conditions and decide alone what “reasonable accommodations” should be made.
Some of the litigant’s problems included: involuntary movements, guttural sounds, moving the head involuntarily from side to side, strange involuntary sounds, convulsions, etc.
One attorney said that the judge should have argued that her medical conditions should not be held against her.and he should have given an explanation. Defense counsel responded that she thought the jury was warned several times that plaintiff’s condition should not be held against her.
The federal court judge should have engaged an experienced medical advisor. Defense Counsel argued in response that Pltff didn’t ast for that and so she should not have received that.
The federal judge argued that the judge is not given the task of psychological or medical diagnoses.
She asked for counsel to be appointed, and counsel was not appointed. Defense counsel argued this would set a bad precedent because then disabled litigants that could not speak would always ask for counsel.
Also, the court wanted to see the transcripts and neither party ordered them. Defendant’s counsel said they cost $1 per page or she didn’t know. (She’s dreaming. They often cost a $150 sitting fee (that’s the fee they charge to travel somewhere and sit in a chair plus $4 per page incase you’re not keeping up on these prices).