United States District Court, District of Columbia
SAUNDRA M. MCNAIR, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.
P. Mehta, United States District Court Judge
the court is Defendant District of Columbia's Motion for
Reconsideration of the Court's February 8, 2019, decision
granting in part the District's Motion for Summary
Judgment. See Def.'s Mot. for Reconsideration,
ECF No. 83 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.]. Defendant seeks
reconsideration of that portion of the court's ruling
denying summary judgment on Plaintiff's reasonable
accommodation claim. Defendant's motion is denied.
motion for reconsideration should not be granted unless the
claimant demonstrates “an intervening change of
controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the
need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest
injustice.” Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d
1205, 1207 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). Defendant
fails to establish any of these criteria.
prior decision, the court denied Defendant summary judgment
on Plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim, ruling that
Plaintiff could establish that the modified work schedule she
sought was related to her knee disability based on a letter
from her treating physician. See Mem. Op., ECF No.
79, at 7. Notwithstanding the physician's letter,
Defendant now argues that Plaintiff cannot establish
relatedness because the court previously barred Plaintiff
from introducing her treating physician's
testimony at trial due to her failure to make the
required expert disclosure under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 26(a)(2)(C). See Def.'s Mot. at 2
(citing Mem. Op., ECF No. 61 [hereinafter Sanction], at 5).
Although Defendant is correct that Plaintiff's physician
cannot testify, see Sanction at 5, it is wrong that
proving relatedness necessarily requires a treating
physician's expert testimony.
testimony might be required in some cases, but not always. In
Hill v. Associates for Renewal in Education, Inc.,
the D.C. Circuit stated that a plaintiff “need only
show that an ‘accommodation' seems reasonable on
its face, i.e., ordinarily or in the run of cases.” 897
F.3d 232, 237 (D.C. Cir. 2018). The plaintiff in
Hill, the court held, satisfied the relatedness
requirement based on his own “documentary
evidence” connecting the accommodation request and his
disability. Id. at 239; see also Mehta v.
Council for Jewish Elderly, 1996 WL 272520, at *3 (N.D.
Ill. 1996) (allowing plaintiff to establish relatedness with
her own testimony). By contrast, in Stern v. University
of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, the Eighth
Circuit held that where the connection between the disability
and reasonable accommodation request is not apparent to a lay
person, expert testimony is necessary. See 220 F.3d
906, 909 (8th Cir. 2000). Expert testimony was required in
that case to show that the testing accommodation sought was
related to the plaintiff's dyslexia, because
“neither the average layperson nor this court can
determine without expert assistance the nature of dyslexia
and what measures would actually address [plaintiff's]
as in Hill and unlike in Stern, a layperson
could determine that Plaintiff's disability was related
to her requested accommodation without the testimony of a
treating physician. Plaintiff's request to work during
hours that would reduce her commute time to avoid aggravating
her knee troubles “seems reasonable on its face.”
Hill, 897 F.3d at 237. The letter from
Plaintiff's doctor, which is admissible if Plaintiff lays
the requisite foundation, makes the connection clear:
“[s]he needs accommodation so that she can avoid the
rush hour traffic . . . which would significantly be
detrimental to her recovery because of the motion in her knee
during driving and potential stop and go situations in her
car, ” Def.'s Mot. for Summ. Judg., ECF No. 72, Ex.
10, ECF No. 72-10. See Higgins v. Martin Marietta
Corp., 752 F.2d 492, 497 (10th Cir. 1985) (holding that
a plaintiff's physician's note was properly admitted
because the letter fell within the business records exception
to the hearsay rule); see also O'Brien v. Int'l
Business Machines, Inc., 2009 WL 806541, at *5 n.10 (D.
N.J. 2009) (same); cf. Petrocelli v. Gallison, 679
F.2d 286, 288, 290 (1st Cir. 1982) (suggesting that a
physician's note could be admitted if the information
reflected the physician's judgment). Plaintiff's own
testimony provides additional evidence. See
Def.'s Mot. for Summ. Judg., ECF No. 72, Ex. 4, ECF No.
72-4, at 84-85. In her deposition, Plaintiff explained
that she continued to need a modified work schedule after she
returned to work in 2012 because her disability “was
actually exacerbated because of the knee surgeries now
because like I would get numbness in my legs, a lot of
radioculopathy throughout the legs, both legs, and shooting
and sometimes I could lose feeling temporarily which was even
more dangerous with me operating a car and trying to control
. . . the brake and the accelerator.” Id.
Plaintiff's testimony “will not be expert, [but]
the jury may evaluate it to determine what credibility it
has.” Mehta, 1996 WL 272520, at *3.
foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration
 This citation reflects the pagination
of Plaintiff's deposition ...