HLD, v. 29, n. 9
Court in Puerto Rico Finds Plaintiff with HIV Failed to Prove
He Was "Disabled" Under ADA
Plaintiff Cruz Carrillo was a flight attendant infected with
human immunodeficiency virus ("HIV"). Carrillo brought an action in federal
district court against his employers, AMR Eagle, Inc. and Executive Airlines,
Inc. (collectively "defendants"), alleging they terminated him in violation
of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") after finding out about his HIV
status. Defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law at the close of Carrillo's
case in chief.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico granted
defendants' motion and dismissed the action. Under the ADA, a person is disabled
if he has "'a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or
more of [his] major life activities.'" See 42 U.S.C. � 12102(2)(A)(1995).
Applying the three-part analysis set forth by the Supreme Court in Bragdon
v. Abbott, 524 U.S. 624 (1998), HLD, v. 26, n. 8, at p. 16, the court
determined that Carrillo was not disabled for purposes of the ADA. First, the
court concluded that Carrillo's HIV infection was an impairment under the ADA.
Next, relying on Carrillo's testimony that he had decided not to have children
because of his HIV status, the court found that for Carrillo "reproduction is
a major life activity." Finally, the court turned to whether the impairment
"'substantially limits'" the major life activity claimed by Carrillo. The court
concluded that Carrillo failed to show a substantial limitation. Unlike Bragdon,
where the Court relied on objective medical evidence about the risks associated
with an HIV infected woman having a child, Carrillo presented no evidence "from
which a reasonable jury could find that HIV substantially limits a man's ability
to reproduce." In so holding, the court rejected Carrillo's argument that he
met the "'substantially limits'" requirement because his HIV status removed
his incentive to reproduce. Thus, the court concluded that Carrillo was not
disabled within the meaning of the ADA.
The court also rejected Carrillo's two other claims under the
ADA: failure to reasonably accommodate and discriminatory discharge. The court
found that Carrillo's letter to defendants asking them "'to discuss [his HIV
status] under strict confidentiality'" was not a request for accommodation.
Because Carrillo never requested an accommodation, the court dismissed the claim
as meritless. Turning to the discriminatory discharge claim, the court found
that Carrillo failed to establish that his termination was motivated by discriminatory
animus, noting "ample evidence of a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for
plaintiff's dismissal," namely Carrillo's poor attendance record and a passenger
complaint against him. The court was not persuaded by the fact that Carrillo
was terminated one day after informing defendants of his HIV status. Accordingly,
the court dismissed all claims against the defendants.
Carrillo v. AMR Eagle, Inc., No. 99-2029 (D.P.R. June
28, 2001) (8 pages).