161 F.3d 1196 (9th Cir. 1998), 97-35559, Kees v. Wallenstein

Docket Nº:97-35559.
Citation:161 F.3d 1196
Party Name:Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 8663, 98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 12,035 Reginald L. KEES; Joseph B. McCreary; Robert C. Niece; John C. Standley, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Arthur WALLENSTEIN, Director, King County Department of Adult Detention; Arthur and Jane Doe Wallenstein, a marital community; Michael Graber, Director of Operations, King County Department of
Case Date:August 17, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 1196

161 F.3d 1196 (9th Cir. 1998)

Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 8663,

98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 12,035

Reginald L. KEES; Joseph B. McCreary; Robert C. Niece;

John C. Standley, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

Arthur WALLENSTEIN, Director, King County Department of

Adult Detention; Arthur and Jane Doe Wallenstein, a marital

community; Michael Graber, Director of Operations, King

County Department of Adult Detention; Michael and Jane Doe

Graber, a marital community; Gary Locke, King County

Executive; King County, a legal subdivision of the State of

Washington, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 97-35559.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 17, 1998

Argued and Submitted Aug. 4, 1998.

Decided Nov. 25, 1998.

Page 1197

Sidney J. Strong, Kimberly A. Konat, Strong & Konat, Seattle, Washington, for the plaintiffs-appellants.

Norm Maleng, King County Prosecuting Attorney, Diane Hess Taylor, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and Donald W. Heyrich, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Seattle, Washington, for the defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington; William L. Dwyer, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-96-00643-WLD.

Before: D.W. NELSON, KOZINSKI, and NOONAN, Circuit Judges.

ORDER

The Memorandum disposition filed August 17, 1998, is redesignated as an authored Opinion by Judge D.W. Nelson.

OPINION

D.W. NELSON, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs, former King County Jail corrections officers, appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of King County and various King County employees. Plaintiffs brought an action alleging that they were removed from their positions in violation of, inter alia, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (1994). Defendants maintain that plaintiffs are not qualified individuals under the ADA because their inability to have direct inmate contact prevents them from performing the essential functions of the corrections officer job. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

Robert Niece, Joseph McCreary, Reginald Kees, and John Standley (collectively "plaintiffs") were employed by the King County Department of Adult Detention ("DAD") as corrections officers at King County jail ("the jail"). All four plaintiffs allege that they have impairments that prevent them from having direct contact with inmates.

Niece started working as a corrections officer for the DAD in 1977. In 1984, he suffered severe neck and back injuries during a training exercise, and consequently was prevented from working for a year. Upon his return from work, Niece's physician advised that he have no direct contact with inmates because of the risk of subsequent injury and permanent paralysis.

Page 1198

McCreary began working as a corrections officer for the DAD in 1977. In August 1988, he suffered life-threatening injuries during an altercation with an inmate. In June 1989, his physician released him to work under the condition that he be assigned to a two-officer station to avoid another confrontation with an inmate.

Kees has worked for the DAD as a corrections officer since March 1988. When one of his right toes was amputated in 1991, his doctor restricted him to tasks not requiring direct inmate contact.

Standley has been working as a corrections officer for the DAD since 1972. In October 1994, he was diagnosed with a displaced vertebra, and his physician restricted him to light duty.

Until 1994, the DAD accommodated plaintiffs' limitations by assigning them exclusively to the control room, a post that is considered "light duty." Fifteen of the eighty-eight corrections officer posts are control room posts. There are ten types of posts, and corrections officers without medical restrictions are normally expected to rotate among the various posts.

According to the DAD, the duties of the control room post are as follows:

Monitor video terminals, operate control panels and visually inspect to maintain security on a jail floor and control movement of inmates and authorized individuals to/from housing wing, recreation area, visitation area, medical treatment...

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