Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Curley v. City of North Las Vegas (9th Cir. - Dec. 2, 2014)

Judge Friedland was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in April.  Her first published opinion came out last week.  Her second was published this morning.

At least thus far, Judge Friedland's opinions definitely don't qualify as "hide the ball" dispositions.  You can be pretty sure from the way the facts are characterized how the thing's coming out.  This morning's opinion, for example, sets up the facts this way:

"Michael Curley appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of North Las Vegas on his claims alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). First, we consider whether a doctor’s finding that Curley did not pose a safety threat belies one of the City’s stated reasons for firing him—his long history of threatening coworkers. . . .

Curley received many oral and written reprimands during his employment with the City. His disciplinary record reflects that, over the course of several years, Curley had numerous verbal altercations with coworkers, made insensitive remarks about a fellow employee’s motorcycle accident, damaged City property, and made several threats of violence against coworkers. Curley’s disciplinary record also includes statements by coworkers regarding his constant complaints and negative remarks about his managers and the City. . . .

Shortly after his correspondence with the City regarding his second request for accommodation, Curley was involved in another incident with a coworker. The coworker asked Curley to remove his hearing protection so that the two of them could communicate about a work-related task. In response, Curley began swearing and asking the coworker whether he thought he was a doctor. The incident prompted the City to place Curley on administrative leave and to launch an investigation into his behavior.

As part of the investigation, the Human Resources Department interviewed City employees and asked about their interactions with Curley. The interviews revealed that Curley had repeatedly threatened his coworkers and their families. For example, he threatened to put a bomb under a car, insinuated that he had mafia connections, and talked about giving a “blanket party”—which would involve throwing a blanket over a person’s head and beating him. One coworker reported that Curley threatened to kick his teeth out if the coworker did not join a union. On another occasion, Curley threatened to shoot his supervisor’s children in the kneecaps.

The interviews also revealed details about Curley’s work habits. Multiple coworkers said that Curley regularly conducted personal business while at work, sometimes spending up to three hours on his cell phone. It also appears that Curley was operating an ADA consulting business. Many of the calls he made during work were about the business, and coworkers saw him approach disabled individuals to discuss potential lawsuits."

Hmmm.  I wonder which way this one's coming out?