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Monday, August 19, 2019

Federal judge rules against diabetic man's summary judgment claim against Naples

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Jul 20, 2019


FORT MYERS — A Florida man has been denied his motion for summary judgment in his lawsuit against the city of Naples after alleging he was denied a mechanic position due to his diabetes. 

According to the June 27 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division filing, plaintiff Richard Samson and defendant the city of Naples both filed motions for summary judgment along with oppositions for review by the court. 

Samson filed suit against Naples after his job offer as a city mechanic was rescinded because he failed the Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam required for all city mechanics due to his use of insulin and having recently had a "hypoglycemic episode."  The exam allegedly also was needed in order to obtain a Class B commercial driver's license (CDL), which was required for all city mechanics. 

According to the court filing, Samson told the city's human resources department that he already held a CDL, which he obtained due to Florida's "exception for diabetics who drive intrastate" but proceeded with the exam anyway. 

The city of Naples argued that its actions relating to Samson's job offer were done according to the DOT's policy for test failures and for safety reasons. The city also argued Samson failed to "make prima facie showing that he is a qualified individual." Samson argued Naples violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) under which he is covered due to his diabetes. 

The court denied both summary judgment motions with U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappel concluding "test driving is an essential function of the mechanic position" and that for accommodations to be "reasonable" they "must allow the employee to perform" those essential functions. 

Polster Chappel also questioned if the city's DOT exam standard as the reason for Samson's job offer being rescinded is "an impermissible qualification standard" and an "arguably discriminatory reason" but that Samson failed to show an argument against the city's safety reasons. 

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U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

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