McGregor v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation
187 F.3d 1113 (1999)
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Facts: The plaintiff, McGregor, had been working at Amtrak as a ticket agent since 1983 and advanced to be a lead ticket agent. In her capacity, she was tasked with the responsibility of handling baggage weighing a maximum of 75 lbs per item. In a day she would handle several pieces of baggage. On the day of her injury, January 4, 1994, McGregor ended up injuring her arm significantly after trying to take down a bag from the car and load it to a cart (Justia US Law, “Jackie A. Mcgregor, Plaintiff-appellant”).
However, the baggage was quite heavy estimated at 65 to 70 lbs. Her doctor after the surgery on her arm stated that she was restricted to lifting 20 pounds to 25 pounds of weight. The plaintiff thus requested Amtrak to make reasonable accommodation and shift her duty to a different area that had minimal lifting operations. Amtrak thus decided that McGregor was not fit to resume her duties as a ticket agent as the weight limitation provided by her physician restricted her functionality. Further, Amtrak denied the reasonable accommodation request.
The plaintiff claimed that Amtrak was acting in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying her reasonable accommodation.
Whether the plaintiff being assigned to a different position amounted to reasonable accommodation.
Whether the district court erred in granting Amtrak a judgment in summary form based on the fact that he was not in a position to reassign the complainant.
Trial Court Decision: The court considered Amtrak motion for the purpose of summary judgment and declined McGregor’s motion.
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: The court part affirmed, part reversed, and remanded the decision from the trial court.
Reasoning: In determining whether the district court erred in offering Amtrak a summary judgment, it is essential to note that there were no positions to be reassigned. Amtrak’s expert explicitly stated that the plaintiff had an option of 12 positions that she qualified for with her disability. Hence, the Court of Appeal affirmed the district court erred in assuming that there were no vacant positions that the plaintiff could have been reassigned.
On the issue regarding whether court the plaintiff being assigned to a different position amounted to reasonable accommodation, the court was of the stance that as per the provisions of the ADA, the plaintiff satisfied the requirements of proving disability and granted Amtrak’s motion for summary judgment. The District Court in granting Amtrak’s motion for summary judgment was thus found to be in error by the Court of Appeal and sought to have the approval reversed.
On the issue whether the plaintiff was prohibited from bidding for an open position, the Court of Appeal ruled that Amtrak’s policy that an applicant bidding for an open position had to be 100% healed or fully healed violated the provisions of the ADA. The court thus ordered that the issue is remanded to determine if the plaintiff had been prohibited from bidding for open positions and if she would have been granted accommodation if she had bid.