Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #5-5

Published April 30, 2006

Neither Snow Nor Sleet Nor Gloom of Night …

A Wisconsin postal worker has alleged he cannot swiftly complete his work because of erectile dysfunction. His suit against the U.S. Postal Service, alleging it failed to reasonably accommodate his disability, was rejected April 10 by the federal court of appeals in Chicago.

The man suffers from diabetes and, in response to his complaints about limited mobility, the Postal Service supplied him with a part-time clerk assistant. That apparently wasn’t accommodation enough, so next he claimed erectile dysfunction, citing “reduced sexual drive and difficulty in obtaining erections; he must rely on injections to sustain an erection. His complaint is limited [to] reduced sexual activity,” the court noted.

The court’s decision turned on whether his disability met the definition in the Americans with Disabilities Act, that a disability consists of the “substantial limitation on one or more of the major life activities.”

After a lengthy and surprisingly erudite analysis of case law on this issue from other courts, the Chicago federal appeals court finally got to the question that must bewilder any sensible person: “Scheerer fails to explain in what fashion the Postal Service could reasonably accommodate his diabetes in the context of symptoms of sexual dysfunction.” A lifetime supply of Viagra? Conjugal visits when the moment is right even during working hours? Free adult sex toys?

As one postal official told Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly, “What do you need with an erection at work?” It puts a whole new meaning on the term “going postal.” From Scheerer v. Potter, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 8680 (7th Cir. 2006) and a Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly interview

One Plus One Equals $160,000

The City of Virginia Beach, Virginia has agreed to pay $160,000 to 124 black and Hispanic police department applicants, after allegations that the city’s grading standards on math exams, required for police employment, was discriminatory and resulted in a police force that did not reflect the diversity of the city.

The city required all applicants to score at least 70 percent on reading, grammar, and math tests. While 85 percent of white applicants passed the math test, only 59 percent of black applicants and 55 percent of Hispanic applicants passed.

Under a new standard set forth in the settlement agreement, the 70 percent standard for reading and grammar would remain in place, but the math score can be lower, as the applicant need score only an average of 60 percent on all three parts of the test.

One city council member, Reba McClanan, disagrees with the settlement. “One of the things that’s insulting about it is they’re telling us we don’t have a right to insist on certain standards,” McClanan told the Virginian-Pilot. “My feeling was we should hang in there. We want fairness and we want as many minorities working for our departments as possible, but we also want them to meet certain standards.”

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the U.S. Justice Department questioned “whether math is relevant to the daily duties of a police officer.”

Not relevant? Just picture the cop on the witness stand who can’t add or subtract. Who cannot say how many miles over the speed limit the speeder was traveling. Or whether the cop’s speed detector was properly calibrated. Or how much over .08 the drunk driver registered in the breathalyzer. Or how many times a victim was stabbed or shot. It’s now a defendant’s paradise in Virginia City. From the Virginian-Pilot

Hurt Feelings Not Worth $1.5 Million

A New Jersey superior court judge threw out a $1.5 million verdict awarded to a high school student who claimed emotional distress when her high school basketball coach yelled at her. The judge contended that while she may have endured “embarrassment [and] humiliation,” her medical records did not show any severe emotional distress or permanent damages.

“What we were fearful about in this case was that any parent, some well-heeled parent, can blame a coach for everything from having headaches to not being successful in a career and win damages,” the school district attorney said.

Milwaukee author and radio talk show host Charlie Sykes agrees that the self-esteem movement can have unexpected consequences. “Kids are taught to expect that everyone will think they are wonderful just the way they are,” he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s dangerous to generalize, but that can create a generation of self-involved narcissists who believe the rest of the world should accommodate them. The reality is that the world is becoming increasingly competitive. And rather than preparing young people for it, we have been concerned with cushioning them from all the falls.” From the New Jersey Law Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer

Judge Learns a Lesson–But Not in Driving

When a Roane County, Tennessee judge sentenced traffic offenders to brush up on their driving skills by attending driving school, no one thought anything much of it … until it was discovered he had received kickbacks from the driving schools for more than 10 years.

He pleaded guilty recently to charges that he received $13,869 in cash, a pickup truck, and a laptop computer last year from one driving firm. Prosecutors also allege he has received kickbacks of about $3,000 to $3,500 per month from another driving firm. He is expected to receive about four years in prison. From the OakRidger

A Really Bad Hair Day

How much money is a bad hair day worth? $6,000, according to a St. Louis jury.

A Missouri woman went to an Elizabeth Arden hair salon to have her hair straightened and styled. That night, clumps fell out and the texture of her hair became brittle. She sued, claiming she became “distressed and reclusive,” quitting her jobs as a teacher and tour guide. There was no explanation from the jury as to how they reached the verdict amount. From

Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly

Published by The Heartland Institute (312/377-4000), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984.
Phone 312/377-4000, fax 312/377-5000
Back issues are available online at
Publisher: Joseph L. Bast
Editors: Maureen Martin, Diane Carol Bast

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