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.