District of Connecticut

Red light? Green light? Trial.

Every week or two, the federal court in Connecticut is asked to decide a motion for summary judgment in a discrimination case.  I’ve yet to discuss what these motions are in detail on this blog, but a recent federal case in Connecticut provides a good learning example.

To simplify (drastically?) a federal court case in Connecticut, after a lawsuit is filed by an employee and responded to by the defendant/employer, the parties engage in what is called discovery — interrogatories, requests for production and depositions — all in the hopes of getting information that can help them at trial.

But at the end of discovery — before a trial happens — the parties (and typically the defendant) have an opportunity to file a “motion for summary judgment.”  Such a motion is the defendant’s chance to say, “Based on the undisputed facts, we should win on the law.”  Or, in other words, there’s no need for a trial.

What people unfamiliar with the legal process often misunderstand, however, is that the court isn’t merely looking at the law in deciding whether the case merits a trial. Rather, the court first looks to see whether all the material (or, in plain English, important) facts are undisputed.

If there are genuine disagreements as to key factual issues, then the case has to go to a trial to let a jury or judge decide the key facts.

A car accident case is the easiest way to understand this.  Suppose there is an accident at an intersection and the key issue is who had the right of way.  Driver A says the light was green. Driver B says light was red.  Witness C says the light had just turned yellow.   In this situation, there is a genuine issue as to what color the light was and therefore, who had the right of way. It’ll be up to a jury to weigh the evidence and decide who is to blame for the accident.


Continue Reading What Happens in a “He Said/She Said” Case? A Trial

UPDATED 11/22/13, 3p

Earlier this week, members of the CBA’s Federal Practice Section were informed that the Initial Discovery Protocols in Employment Cases are now being used by all the judges in the district.

As such, lawyers and clients should now expect to deal with them in various types of discrimination cases filed in federal

As we wrap up summer and start returning from vacations, there are several important Second Circuit FLSA decisions decided over the last few weeks that employers need to be aware of.  I’ll cover them in posts over the next few days.

Earlier this summer, the Second Circuit (which is the appeals court for the federal

 Today, my colleague Jonathan Orleans makes a return engagement to the blog, updating us on a decision released by the District Court of Connecticut yesterday that has relevance to various ADA cases in the state.  The Defendant was successfully represented by another colleague of mine here at the firm, Marcy Stovall.  

A decision issued yesterday by a federal district court in Connecticut provides some useful guidance on the distinction, for purposes of the Americans With Disabilities Act, between impairments that merely affect major life activities and those that substantially limit such activities. 

The decision by Judge Janet Arterton also clarifies that in determining whether the plaintiff is substantially limited in important life activities, the plaintiff is compared to “most people,” not to any subgroup of the general population.

In Rumbin v. Association of American Medical Colleges (download here), the plaintiff sought various accommodations, including extra time, to take the Medical College Admission Test (the “MCAT”), claiming to be disabled because he was severely limited in the major life activity of seeing. 

He submitted to the Association, which administers the MCAT, reports from his treating ophthalmologist and a behavioral optometrist who said that he had various vision-related impairments, including glaucoma, ocular misalignment, convergence insufficiency, binocular dysfunction, and oculomotor dysfunction. 

The Association nonetheless denied his request for accommodation after having his application reviewed by its own expert, the Executive Director of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry, who found the reports of plaintiff’s doctors unconvincing on a variety of grounds. 

(Interestingly, the Association presented evidence at trial that the MCAT is intentionally designed to be arduous and time-pressured, and that it is reluctant to grant requests for extra time because studies show that scores on tests where extra time is given are not equivalent to scores on tests using the standard timing.) 

The Defendant was also represented by Robert Burgoyne of Fulbright & Jaworski in Washington, DC.


Continue Reading Impairments That Merely Affect Major Life Activities Not Covered by ADA, Says Federal Court

A former Branford Facilities Manager’s claims that his employment was terminated due to protected speech and his political affiliation were effectively dismissed on Friday, February 25th when a federal court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment.

The 40-page opinion provides good roadmap for employers (and their attorneys) to understanding such claims and what is