Law School Case Brief
Weaving v. City of Hillsboro - 763 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2014)
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) forbids discrimination against a "qualified individual on the basis of disability." 42 U.S.C.S. § 12112(a). A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual who claims the disability, or a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. 42 U.S.C.S. § 12102(1). The ADA provides a nonexhaustive list of "major life activities." Such activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. 42 U.S.C.S. § 12102(2)(A).
Matthew Weaving worked for the Hillsboro Police Department (HPD) in Oregon from 2006 to 2009. HPD terminated Weaving's employment in 2009 following severe interpersonal problems between Weaving and other HPD employees. Weaving contends that these interpersonal problems resulted from his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After his discharge, Weaving brought suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He contended that he was disabled because his ADHD substantially limited his ability to engage in two major life activities: working and interacting with others. He claimed that HPD had discharged him because of his disabilities in violation of the ADA. The jury returned a general verdict for Weaving, finding that he was disabled and that the City of Hillsboro (Hillsboro) had discharged him because of his disability. Hillsboro moved for judgment as a matter of law. It also moved for a new trial on the ground of improper jury instructions. The district court denied both motions, and Hillsboro appealed.
Could a jury have found that ADHD substantially limited Weaving's ability to work or to interact with others within the meaning of the ADA?
In this ADA action, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the record did not contain substantial evidence showing that Weaving was limited in his ability to work compared to most people in the general population where there was evidence showing that Weaving was in many respects a skilled police officer, including testimony that Weaving had developed compensatory mechanisms that helped him overcome ADHD's impediments and succeed in his career. Weaving’s ADHD may well have limited his ability to get along with others, but that was not the same as a substantial limitation on the ability to interact with others.
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