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Minter v. District of Columbia

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

December 29, 2015

Penelope Minter, Appellant
v.
District of Columbia, Appellee

Argued October 19, 2015

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:10-cv-00516)

Emre N. Ilter argued the cause for appellant. On the brief were Michael S. Nadel and Johnny H. Walker.

Richard S. Love, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Karl A. Racine, Attorney General, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General.

Before: Garland, Chief Judge, Rogers, Circuit Judge, and Edwards, Senior Circuit Judge.

OPINION

Garland, Chief Judge

Appellant Penelope Minter sued the District of Columbia for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the District. We affirm.

I

Minter suffered from sarcoidosis and related sarcoid arthritis that made it difficult for her to maintain a regular forty-hours-per-week work schedule. At a meeting in September 2006, she asked her employer, the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), about working a reduced schedule as a way of accommodating her disability. Unfortunately, while the Office's ADA Coordinator was looking into the possibility of an accommodation, Minter slipped on a newly waxed floor and sustained a serious injury that severely aggravated her preexisting conditions. The new injury occurred on September 26. On December 1, Minter had a second meeting with the ADA Coordinator, Sharlene Williams, during which Minter contends that Williams said a reduced schedule would not be a reasonable accommodation, but also requested Minter's medical records "so that she could decide." Minter Dep. 255-56 (Nov. 13, 2012) (J.A. 56).

Thereafter, in December and January, Minter took several weeks off from work on account of her September injury. In February 2007, she stopped working altogether. Between February and May, OCME sent Minter several letters requesting documentation of her injury; Minter did not provide any. In June, OCME told her that she would have to report to duty or provide medical documentation of her injury. If she did neither, OCME said, it would have to find her absent without leave and subject to disciplinary action.

Minter finally responded by faxing her employer a physician's "Disability Certificate, " dated June 19, 2007, stating that Minter's injury had left her "Totally Disabled" since September 26, 2006 and that she would be so disabled "indefinitely." Disability Certificate (J.A. 284).[1] Minter advised OCME that she "hope[d]" to return to work by September 2007. James Dep. 103 (J.A. 224) (testimony of Minter's supervisor quoting cover letter attached to the faxed disability certificate). Unwilling to wait any longer for Minter's uncertain return, OCME terminated her employment.

Minter brought suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 791 et seq., alleging that the District: (1) unlawfully refused to accommodate her disability, and (2) retaliated against her for requesting an accommodation by terminating her employment.[2] The district court granted summary judgment for the District on the grounds, inter alia, that no reasonable jury could find either that Minter was a qualified individual for purposes of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, or that Minter was terminated because of her accommodation request. Minter v. District of Columbia, 62 F.Supp.3d 149, 167-68 (D.D.C. 2014).[3]

We review the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo and "must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Breen v. Dep't of Transp., 282 F.3d 839, 841 (D.C. Cir. 2002); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. A dispute about a material fact is not ...


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