July 24, 2009

Robert Ames, Lesley Pate Marlin, and Trevor Blake Win Appeal for Client in the D.C. Circuit

2 min

On July 21, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Circuit Judges Ginsburg, Tatel, and Brown) unanimously affirmed the trial court's grant of summary to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) on a former employee's claim of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The former employee, Lytes, claimed that WASA failed to reasonably accommodate him when it refused to allow him to return to work on light duty and then terminated him because of his alleged disability of a back injury. The trial court held that WASA was entitled to summary judgment because Lytes was not disabled within the meaning of the ADA. Lytes appealed pro se, and the D.C. Circuit appointed the Director of the Georgetown University Law Center's Appellate Litigation Clinic as amicus curiae to present arguments on Lytes' behalf.

While the appeal was pending, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) became law. Rejecting amicus' argument and instead adopting the principal point advanced by Venable, the D.C. Circuit held that the ADAAA did not apply retroactively to Lytes' claims. Although other circuit courts have refused to apply the ADAAA retroactively, none have done so with the lengthy analysis contained in the decision written by Circuit Judge Ginsburg. With regard to the merits of Lytes' claims, the Court agree with the argument advanced by Venable that Lytes had not presented sufficient evidence to raise a triable issue as to whether he was disabled within the meaning of the ADA when he was refused accommodation and terminated.

Lesley Pate Marlin argued the case on behalf of WASA, and she wrote WASA's brief with assistance from Robert G. Ames and Trevor Blake.