After the ADA (1990-2006)

A series of Supreme Court decisions triggered the beginning of a conversation about the need to change the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to ensure the statue was able to live up to its promise. This sections contains selected cases and commentary covering the time period from July 27, 1990 through November 31, 2006.

United States Supreme Court

The Sutton Trilogy

In the spring of 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a trio of critical cases which resulted in a significantly limited interpretation of the federal law definition of disability. The “Sutton Trilogy” led to a string of cases in the lower federal courts that closed the doors to individuals with disabilities who were intended to benefit from the ADA.

Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999).

 Murphy v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 527 U.S. 516 (1999).

 Albertson’s Inc. v. Kirkingburg, 527 U.S. 555 (1999).

Subsequent Supreme Court Cases

Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc., v. West Virginia Dep’t of Health & Human Res., 532 U.S. 598 (2001).

 Chevron U.S.A., Inc., v. Echazabal, 536 U.S. 73 (2002).

 U.S. Airways, Inc., v. Barnett, 535 U.S. 391 (2002).

 Toyota Motor Mfg. Ky., Inc., v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002).

United States Courts of Appeal

Williams v. Philadelphia Hous. Auth. Police Dep’t., 380 F.3d 751 (3d Cir. 2004).

 Tockes v. Air-Land Transp. Serv. Inc., 343 F.3d 895 (7th Cir. 2003).

 Equal Emp. Oppt’y. Comm’n. v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., 321 F.3d 69 (2d Cir. 2003).

 Kaplan v. City of North Las Vegas, 323 F.3d 1226 (9th Cir. 2003).

 Orr v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 297 F.3d 720 (8th Cir. 2002).

 Equal Emp. Oppt’y. Comm’n. v. Sara Lee Corp., 237 F. 3d 349 (4th Cir. 2001).

 Sorensen v. Univ. of Utah Hosp., 194 F.3d. 1084 (10th Cir. 1999).

 Weber v. Strippit, Inc., 186 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 1999).

 Workman v. Frito-Lay, Inc., 165 F.3d 460 (6th Cir. 1999).

 Newberry v. E. Tex. State Univ., 161 F.3d 276 (5th Cir. 1998).

Katz v. City Metal Co., Inc., 87 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 1996).

United States District Courts

McMullin v. Ashcroft, 337 F. Supp. 2d 1281 (D. Wyo. 2004).

 Pimental v. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic, 236 F. Supp. 2d 177 (D.N.H. 2002).

 Jewell v. Reid’s Confectionary Co., 172 F. Supp. 2d 212 (D. Me. 2001).

 Epstein v. Kalvin-Miller Int’l., Inc., 100 F. Supp 2d 469 (S.D.N.Y. 2001).

 Todd v. Academy Corp., 57 F. Supp. 2d 448 (S.D. Tex. 1999).

 Phillips v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 78 F. Supp. 2d 1274 (S.D. Ala. 1999).

 Sutton v. NM Dept. of Children, Youth and Families, 992 F. Supp. 516 (D.N.M. 1996).

Helpful Commentary

National Council on Disability, Righting the ADA (2004).

 Chai R. Feldblum, Definition of Disability under Federal Anti-Discrimination Law: What Happened - Why - And What Can We Do about It, 21 BerkeleyJ. Emp. & Lab. L. 91 (2000).