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United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
November 3, 2021, Argued; February 11, 2022, Decided
Kanne, Circuit Judge. Russell Pontinen applied to work as a Utility Person at United States Steel Corporation's ("USS") Midwest Plant and received a contingent employment offer. After a diligent investigation, USS discovered that Pontinen suffered from an uncontrolled seizure disorder and imposed work restrictions on him. The restrictions conflicted with the requirements of the position he applied for, so USS rescinded its employment offer. Because USS has carried its burden to show that Pontinen's seizure disorder would pose a direct threat to himself and others at its Midwest Plant, summary judgment on his ADA claim was [*2] proper.
Russell Pontinen has experienced three or four seizures during his lifetime. The first occurred when he was eight years old, and the second when he was twenty-two. His third seizure happened in June 2014 and was followed two months later by what he now calls a "heat-related illness," but what may very well have been a fourth seizure. Before his second and third seizures, Pontinen says he felt "fuzziness" in his left eye, a "warning signal" of sorts. The signal gave him somewhere between thirty seconds and two minutes to prepare.
After the June 2014 seizure, Pontinen began seeing Dr. George Abu-Aita, a neurologist. Dr. Abu-Aita determined that Pontinen's seizure disorder was "not well controlled" and prescribed him Trileptal, but Pontinen experienced negative side effects from the drug and failed to take it "faithfully and daily." After the possible seizure in August 2014, Dr. Abu-Aita switched Pontinen to a medication called Depakote. By the end of October 2014, Dr. Abu-Aita thought the seizure disorder was "well controlled with Depakote." His notes warned, "Do not miss your medication."
Each February from 2015 to 2017, Pontinen saw Dr. Abu-Aita again for follow-up [*3] appointments. In 2015, Dr. Abu-Aita wrote that the seizure disorder "seem[ed] to be well controlled," that Pontinen reported missing doses "once in a blue moon," and that he told Pontinen he should never do that.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 3883 *; 26 F.4th 401; 2022 WL 424813
RUSSELL PONTINEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.
Prior History: [*1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. No. 18-cv-232 — Andrew P. Rodovich, Magistrate Judge.
Pontinen v. United States Steel Corp., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43279, 2021 WL 878718 (N.D. Ind., Mar. 8, 2021)
seizures, medication, seizure disorder, direct threat, restrictions, uncontrolled, regulations, duration, direct-threat, neurologist, disability, district court, potential harm, qualification, rescind, weigh, individualized assessment, summary judgment, well controlled, severity, argues, driver, signal
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Judgments, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Legal Entitlement, Labor & Employment Law, Disability Discrimination, Defenses, Business Necessity, Direct Threats, Employment Practices, Medical Inquiries, Disparate Impact, Business Necessity & Job Relatedness, Scope & Definitions, Qualified Individuals With Disabilities, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Disabled Persons, Americans With Disabilities Act, Defenses, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Federal Employment & Services, Business & Corporate Compliance, Discrimination, ADA Enforcement, Disparate Treatment, Scope & Definitions