Friday, March 16, 2012

ADAAA Retroactivity... a Chance!? - COTW #83

Waaay back, at the dawn of time - I mean, the dawn of Lawffice Space - I wrote the very first post on Lawffice Space (not counting the disclaimer). That post was ADAAA 2008 Retroactivity? Not a Chance. It was a done deal. Case after case (after case) held that the ADAAA, and its expanded definition of "disability", did not apply retroactively.

I have never had any reason to question the conclusion of that post... until now. Wait a Second (a blog about the 2nd Circuit), reports 2d Circuit quietly applies Amended ADA retroactively. What!? The case is Hilton v. Wright.

The ADAAA took effect on January 1, 2009. Hilton is a prison inmate denial of treatment claim filed back in 2005. The Court held:
Until January 1, 2009, when amendments to 42 U.S.C § 12102 went into effect, see ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-325,§§ 4(a), 8, 122 Stat. 3555, (2008) . . . Hilton would not have been able to demonstrate that he was "disabled" within the meaning of the ADA . . . . [U]nder the old regime, Hilton could survive summary judgment on his ADA claim only if he could raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether [Defendants] regarded him personally as being substantially limited in a major life activity. [In this case, applying the ADAAA standard,] it is clear that he was only required to raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether [Defendants] regarded him as having a mental or physical impairment. Hilton was not required to present evidence of how or to what degree they believed the impairment affected him.
The Court provides absolutely no analysis of whether the ADAAA should be applied retroactively. But, they apply the new standard to an old claim. And, the opinion notes that "both parties" thought Hilton needed to establish that he was regarded as "being substantially limited in a major life activity" (the "old regime" standard).

I never thought I'd say this, but ADAAA retroactivity? Maybe there's a chance.

HT: Dan Schwartz for tweeting the Wait a Second entry.