Just in time for law school graduation season, our national sister publication, Lawyers USA, reports this U.S. District Court decision out of the 1st Circuit:
A law student who was expelled for failing two classes can sue the school under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failing to accommodate his learning disability, a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts has ruled in denying a motion to dismiss.
After he was expelled, the student underwent a medical exam that indicated he had memory and organizational deficits caused by long-term brain damage.
When he was refused readmittance with accommodations, he sued the school under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act.
A U.S. District Court said his complaint sufficiently made out a disability claim.
“[The student] asserts that he suffers from a ‘mental impairment which substantially limits his ability to learn.’ [The law school] contends that, despite that allegation, [he] has failed to link his disability to his academic failures. … Although the complaint does not explicitly state that [his] disability caused him to fail two classes, this court concludes that such an inference can be fairly drawn from his allegations.”
However, said the court, “[a]lthough [the student] has at least alleged a disability that substantially limits his ability to learn … he faces a substantial obstacle in proving the same. In particular, it is less than clear how [his] poor ‘executive functioning’ and memory abilities impacted his performance in two law school classes but not others. Nevertheless, [he] is not required to make such a showing at the pleading stage and his failure to allege other manifestations of his disability does not automatically foreclose his ADA claim.”
U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Brodsky v. New England School of Law, No.09-10007-NMG. April 29, 2009. Lawyers USA No. 993-749.