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Court of Appeals of Georgia, Fourth Division
October 4, 2002, Decided
[*113] [**679] ELLINGTON, Judge.
Following a hearing, the State Court of Richmond County dismissed Wynetha Williamson's disability discrimination complaint against the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the Georgia Regional Hospital. Williamson appeals, contending the trial court erred in finding that her claim under Title I of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 USC § 12101 et seq. ("the ADA"), was barred under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Williamson also argues the trial court erred in finding that her claim under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC § 701 et seq. ("the Rehabilitation Act"), was barred by the statute of limitation. For the following reasons, we reverse.
] A complaint should be dismissed only if the allegations of the complaint disclose with certainty that the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any state of provable facts. Raza v. Swiss Supply Direct, Inc., 256 Ga. App. 175 (568 S.E.2d 102) ( [***2] 2002). ] We review the sufficiency of the complaint de novo and construe it in the light most favorable to the [**680] plaintiff with all doubts resolved in her favor. Id. Viewed in this light, the record shows the following: For over 25 years, Williamson worked as a licensed practical nurse at Georgia Regional Hospital in Augusta. From 1990 to 1999, Williamson had [*114] carpal tunnel syndrome which interfered with her ability to perform her job duties. Beginning in July 1998, Williamson asked for a change in her duties but, at the Hospital's suggestion, took a leave of absence instead. Beginning in October 1998, Williamson was medically cleared to return to work with light-duty restrictions, and she requested that she be allowed to return to work subject to the medically indicated restrictions. On February 12, 1999, the Hospital informed Williamson that lifting more than 30 pounds, which Williamson was not medically cleared to do, was an essential function of her job and that her inability to perform that essential function could not be accommodated. Absent medical clearance to perform the essential functions of her job, the Hospital said, Williamson would be released [***3] from her employment. On April 9, 1999, the Hospital approved Williamson's request to return to work with modified duties.
On March 3, 2000, Williamson filed a complaint against the Department and the Hospital (collectively "the Department"), alleging that the Hospital failed to offer a reasonable accommodation in violation of the ADA and forced her to take leave in violation of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 USC § 2601 et seq. ("the FMLA"). The Department answered and removed the case to federal district court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. See 28 USC § 1441. The Department moved for summary judgment, arguing the Eleventh Amendment immunized it from suit. 1 The federal district court found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Williamson's ADA claim because Georgia had not consented to be sued for such claims in federal court. Williamson v. Ga. Dept. of Human Resources, 150 F. Supp. 2d 1375, 1379-1382 (III) (A) (S.D. Ga. 2001). The district court further found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Williamson's FMLA claim for the same reason. Id. at 1382 [***4] (III) (B). Accordingly, on July 13, 2001, the district court dismissed Williamson's claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and remanded to the State Court. 150 F. Supp. 2d at 1382.
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258 Ga. App. 113 *; 572 S.E.2d 678 **; 2002 Ga. App. LEXIS 1274 ***; 2002 Fulton County D. Rep. 2903; 13 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 1075
WILLIAMSON v. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES et al.
Subsequent History: [***1] Reconsideration Denied October 22, 2002. Certiorari Applied For.
Prior History: Americans with Disabilities Act, etc. Richmond State Court. Before Judge Hamrick.
Disposition: Judgment reversed.
sovereign immunity, waived, disability, statute of limitations, legislative act, trial court
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