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Smith v. Clark County School District

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 21, 2013

Jacqlyn Smith, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Clark County School District, Defendant-Appellee.

Argued and Submitted May 6, 2013 —San Francisco, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada Roger L. Hunt, Senior District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:09-cv-02142-RLH-LRL

Michael P. Balaban (argued), Law Offices of Michael P. Balaban, Las Vegas, Nevada, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

S. Scott Greenberg (argued), Clark County School District, Office of General Counsel, Las Vegas, Nevada, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: William A. Fletcher, Ronald M. Gould, and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges.

SUMMARY[*]

Employment Discrimination

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's judgment in favor of an employer on claims of disability discrimination and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting the employer's motion for reconsideration of an order denying summary judgment because in that order the court committed a clear error of law by not applying controlling Supreme Court precedent.

The panel held that, in deciding whether the plaintiff was a "qualified individual" under the ADA, the district court did not properly apply the framework set forth in Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp., 526 U.S. 795 (1999), for analyzing the effect of inconsistent statements on applications for disability benefits. The panel concluded that claims for disability retirement, disability leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and private insurance disability benefits do not inherently conflict with an ADA claim because they do not account for an applicant's ability to work with a reasonable accommodation. In addition, the panel held that, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, she had offered sufficient explanations for her inconsistent statements in her prior benefit applications so that her case could proceed past summary judgment. Therefore, the panel held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for the employer, and reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

OPINION

GOULD, Circuit Judge

Jacqlyn Smith appeals the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Clark County School District on Smith's claims for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101–12213. See Smith v. Clark County (Smith II), No. 2:09-cv-2142, 2011 WL 4007532 (D. Nev. Sept. 8, 2011) (unpublished). Smith argues (1) that the district court abused its discretion by granting the School District's motion for reconsideration of its initial order denying summary judgment; and (2) that the district court erred by granting summary judgment under Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corporation, 526 U.S. 795 (1999). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm in part and reverse in part.

I

Smith worked in the Clark County School District from 1992 to 2008. She first taught elementary school. But in 2001, Smith had a back injury that limited her mobility and led her to pursue a less physically demanding job within the school setting. Literary specialist fit the bill. Literary specialists train and assist elementary school teachers with teaching and testing student literacy skills, but literary specialists are not responsible for all of the duties needed to teach a class of students. Smith earned her literary-specialist certification in 2004 and took a job as a literary specialist in the School District. Smith ...


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