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Kanne, Circuit Judge. Cheryl Gile worked eightyears for United Airlines, Inc. (“United”) beforeshe began suffering from a cluster ofpsychological disorders that made it increasinglydifficult for her to perform her job. Gileinitially had volunteered for night shift duty,but insomnia and exhaustion from sleepdeprivation were aggravating her psychologicalcondition. After consultation with apsychologist, she asked United to accommodate hercondition by reassigning her to a daytime shift,but United refused Gile’s repeated requests andsuggested that she consider quitting her jobinstead. Gile sued under the Americans withDisabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), secs. 42U.S.C. 12101-12213, for United’s failure toaccommodate her disability and won bothcompensatory and punitive damages at trial.United now appeals the district court’s denial ofjudgment as a matter of law on compensatorydamages, the jury instruction barringconsideration of mitigating measures in assessingdisability under the ADA and the denial ofjudgment as a matter of law on punitive damagesunder the Supreme Court’s decision last term inKolstad v. American Dental Ass’n, 527 U.S. 526,119 S.Ct. 2118 (1999). We affirm the judgment forGile but reverse the award of punitive damages. I. History In March 1984, Cheryl Gile began working forUnited as a data entry operator in the airfreight department at O’Hare InternationalAirport in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother hadworked eighteen years for United and recommendedUnited as an employer, so Gile was excited aboutthe job. Although United transferred Gile severaltimes over the next five years between the dayand night shifts, she received good performanceevaluations describing her as a “valuable asset”and a “very competent, thorough and accurateemployee.” In January 1989, at her request, Gilereceived a transfer to the night shift, runningfrom 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., and worked nightswithout complaint for several years. However, when Gile returned to work frommaternity leave in March 1992, she began feelingchronically depressed and suffered from insomniaand constant anxiety. She slept only a few hoursa day, struggled to perform mundane householdchores, erupted into spontaneous outbursts ofcrying, fell asleep while driving and feltperpetually fatigued. In June 1992, Gileinitiated semi-weekly consultations about herpsychological condition with Betty Orlandino, alicensed clinical social worker listed by Unitedin its catalog of health care providersrecommended to employees. Gile told Orlandino that she had been able tosleep only a few hours a day since returning towork in March. Gile reported that she “could notfunction properly” and was “going crazy.”Orlandino diagnosed Gile with depression andanxiety disorder because Gile was suffering fromfeelings of “hopelessness and helplessness” andexperiencing “fatigue, irritability,distractibility, [and] difficulty concentrating.”Orlandino noted that Gile’s anticipatory anxietyover getting enough sleep each night and thesheer exhaustion from insomnia exacerbated Gile’scondition, and she instructed Gile to seektransfer to a daytime shift. Soon afterward, Gileinformed her supervisor James Kinzler that shewas struggling with depression and that sheneeded a shift transfer. Although Kinzlertestified at trial that he did not recall thismeeting, Gile said Kinzler told her that he wouldlet her know about any new openings on the dayshift. Kinzler never spoke to Gile about atransfer again. On August 28, 1992, Gile had an emotional”breakdown” at work. She started cryinguncontrollably and told supervisor Frank Mancinithat she thought she was losing her mind. Giletried resting for a spell then returning to work,but Mancini allowed her to go home when that didnot alleviate her anxiety attack. Gile calledOrlandino immediately after arriving home and sawOrlandino on August 31. After consulting aphysician, psychologist and two psychiatricsocial workers, Orlandino formally recommendedthat Gile be placed on medical leave and givenanti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.Orlandino provided Gile a note, which Gilepresented to Mancini a few days later, statingthat Gile was “experiencing a depressive reactionwith anxiety state” and “her present position atUnited and the night shift are aggravating hercondition.” United’s Regional Medical Director Dr. RobertMcGuffin handled Gile’s claim pursuant to hisduties of evaluating the medical condition andwork fitness of United employees at O’HareAirport. He telephoned Orlandino, who told himthat Gile’s condition was directly related toGile working the night shift. On September 22,1992, McGuffin met with Gile but did not take hermedical history or conduct a psychologicalexamination. Gile explained her symptoms and toldMcGuffin that she was seeing Orlandino twiceweekly for depression. McGuffin retorted that “if[she] was that unhappy, [then] why didn’t [she]just resign and stay home.” Gile answered thatshe did not want to stay home and that she wantedto work; she insisted that it “didn’t matter ifit was lateral, didn’t matter if it was ademotion. [She] would take anything as long as[she] could be on a regular shift, a regulardaytime shift.” McGuffin told her to see him ina couple of weeks and terminated the fifteen-minute meeting. McGuffin approved Gile’s requestfor medical leave but deemed Gile’s condition a”nonoccupational illness.” Three days later, on September 25, 1992, Gileapplied for a “competitive transfer.” Unitedregularly posted new job openings at O’Hare andinvited employees to submit their resumes andmost recent performance evaluations as”competitive transfer” applications for thesepositions. Gile applied for two non-data entryjob openings, one in reservations and one in theair freight headquarters, but never heard backabout her applications. Disappointed by McGuffin’s summary conclusion,Orlandino sent a letter dated September 29, 1992,to McGuffin repeating that Gile neededreassignment to the day shift because Gile’sproblems stemmed directly from her night shiftposition. The letter averred that “[a]lthough theetiology of Mrs. Gile’s condition is non-occupational as to her job duties, it is directlyrelated to the shift she had been assigned to.”Therefore, the letter requested that “a change inshift be considered for Cheryl Gile.” McGuffintestified at trial that he realized “there wassomething wrong with [Gile] mentally” and he didnot disagree with the diagnosis of depression andanxiety or “take issue” with Orlandino’sassessment. Furthermore, though United challengedOrlandino’s professional credentials at trial andin its appellate briefs, neither McGuffin nor anyother United representative ever requested thatGile be treated or evaluated by another physicianor psychologist. When Gile saw McGuffin again on November 2,1992, Gile reported ongoing “severe, severedepression” and again “begged him to please help[her].” Gile said that she would be happy to goback to work if he would “please just help [her]get a job that [she] would be working the dayshift.” McGuffin huffed that “it sounded like apersonal problem . . . not an illness.” McGuffinexplained at trial that he did not expeditereassignment to the day shift partly because hewas concerned that other employees might expector request a transfer out of the night shift aswell. He also thought that a “change in workschedule more accurately addressed personal andlife and family issues rather than an illness.”McGuffin took no further action other thantelling Gile to seek a nonmedical transfer, whichshe had already tried, and issuing Gile a workrelease note for continued duty on the nightshift. Upon hearing McGuffin’s assessment, Orlandinocalled McGuffin to insist that Gile’s night shiftassignment was a “major factor” in Gile’scondition. McGuffin steadfastly disagreed andsaid that “if [Gile] didn’t like it, she couldquit.” A few days later, Orlandino faxed McGuffina letter recommending that Gile be placed ontemporary disability until January when Unitedannually rearranged work shift schedules. Gilegave McGuffin’s work release note to hersupervisor but explained that Orlandino had notreleased her to work the night shift. As aresult, United placed Gile on authorized leavewithout pay. United annually reshuffled its employee shiftassignments and permitted employees each Novemberto bid according to seniority for shiftreassignments. By the November 1992 bidding, Gilehad accrued sufficient seniority to win anevening shift, running from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.,beginning in January 1993. Gile testified thatshe would have been happy to work the eveningshift because it was basically a daytime shift,however Gile was home on authorized leave at thetime of November bidding and did not place a bidat all for the 1993 work year. Since United had placed Gile on indefiniteauthorized leave, Gile was understandablysurprised when she received a termination letterfrom United on January 14, 1993, notifying herthat United had terminated her employment forabandonment of her job. Gile contacted United forclarification, but United did not respond.Buffeted by the stress of her apparenttermination, Gile’s psychological conditionworsened, and she began seeing psychiatrist Dr.Alan Hirsch on Orlandino’s recommendation inApril 1993. Hirsch examined Gile four times overthe next six months and confirmed Orlandino’sdiagnoses of clinical depression and severeanxiety. During these sessions with Hirsch, Gilereported loss of self-esteem from her terminationand explained that she had seriously contemplatedsuicide. Hirsch prescribed additional medicationand forwarded his diagnoses to United. Inaddition, Orlandino continued to lobby United onseveral occasions, urging it to reinstate Gileand permit her to work a daytime shift. Unitedacknowledges that daytime positions remained openthroughout all the events of this case, evenafter November bidding closed. After a series of persistent inquiries byGile’s lawyer, United contacted Gile on September23, 1993, and negotiated her return to work inApril 1994. At trial, United explained that ithad mailed the termination letter by mistake and”unfired” Gile when it unraveled the confusion.For her part, Gile was “more than happy to comeback” to United. Upon her return, Gile worked theday shift for two months while another employeewas ill, then worked the evening shift after theill employee’s return. Working during the day andevening served Gile well, just as Orlandinopredicted. Gile testified that “[i]t wasimmensely helpful to be back at work,” and hercondition “started to stabilize,” though it didnot clear up overnight. Before her return to work, however, Gile suedUnited in the Northern District of Illinois onMarch 18, 1994, alleging that United violated theADA in failing to accommodate reasonably herdisability by transferring her out of the nightshift. In its defense, United pointed to its”Reasonable Accommodation Policy,” which read inpertinent part: In keeping with its commitment to equalemployment opportunity and through implementationof our Affirmative Action Plan for the Disabled,United Airlines is obligated to make reasonableaccommodations whenever possible for disabledapplicants and/or employees who are selected forhire, promotion, job retention or training. By way of explanation, United has a ReasonableAccommodation procedure applicable to employeesor applicants with physical or mental workrestrictions. . . . * * * * Regulations state: “An employer must make areasonable accommodation to the physical andmental limitations of an employee/applicant,unless the employer can demonstrate anaccommodation would impose an “undue hardship” onthe Company.” * * * * The key to this process is to identify the workrestriction(s) and then establish the financialand productivity loss which may be associatedwith an accommodation. In some instances, theserestrictions are insignificant to the performanceof the job being considered. In these cases,Reasonable Accommodation is achieved with nosignificant financial or productivity loss. * * * * A. Reasonable Accommodation–Employees(internal) Same procedures as for new-hire accommodations.If the accommodation can be made, proceedaccordingly. If the recommendation is to denyaccommodation, and that decision is upheld by theAccommodations Committee, the StaffRepresentative-Personnel supporting the operationwill work in conjunction with the employmentoffices to find alternative job opportunities forthe employee. At all relevant times, McGuffin and Gile’ssupervisors knew and understood United’sreasonable accommodation policy. After several contentious discovery disputesduring which United refused to produce a numberof documents, the district court granted summaryjudgment in favor of United, holding that Unitedwas not required to transfer Gile as a reasonableaccommodation for her disability. Gile appealedseveral district court discovery rulings and thegrant of summary judgment, and we reversed andremanded in Gile v. United Airlines, Inc., 95F.3d 492 (7th Cir. 1996). The case proceeded totrial on February 8, 1999, and a jury grantedjudgment for Gile four days later, awarding$200,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 inpunitive damages. The district court deniedUnited’s renewed motions for judgment as a matterof law, or in the alternative, a new trial, butlimited Gile’s total damages to $300,000 asrequired under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1981a(b)(3). Unitednow appeals the district court’s denial of itsmotions for judgment as a matter of law regardingcompensatory damages, denial of United’srequested jury instruction on consideration ofmitigating measures in assessing Gile’sdisability and denial of United’s motion forjudgment as a matter of law regarding punitivedamages. II. Analysis A. Judgment as a Matter of Law on Compensatory Damages The district court denied all three of United’smotions under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules ofCivil Procedure for judgment as a matter of lawon liability for compensatory damages, and Unitednow appeals arguing that (1) there was no legallysufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonablejury to find that Gile was a qualified individualunder the ADA; and (2) Gile was solelyresponsible for a breakdown in the requiredinteractive process by failing to avail herselfof the bidding procedures for an employee torequest a shift transfer. In appealing a denial of a motion for judgmentas a matter of law after the jury has decidedagainst it, United assumes a herculean burden. Wereverse only if no rational jury could have foundfor the plaintiff, even when viewing the evidencein the light most favorable to the nonmovant. SeeCollins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 335 (7th Cir.1998). Careful to avoid substituting our judgmentfor that of the factfinder at trial, we ascertainwhether there exists sufficient evidence uponwhich any rational jury could reach the trialverdict. See Tincher v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,118 F.3d 1125, 1129 (7th Cir. 1997). Moreover, weapply this standard stringently in discriminationcases, where witness credibility is typicallycrucial. See Williams v. Pharmacia, Inc., 137F.3d 944, 948 (7th Cir. 1998). We review thisquestion de novo. See Collins, 143 F.3d at 335. First, United claims that the jury lackedsufficient evidentiary basis to find that Gilewas a qualified individual with a disabilityunder the ADA. Specifically, United argues thatGile did not provide the jury with a reasonablebasis to find that her requested accommodation–atransfer from the night shift to a daytime shift–would have enabled her to perform the essentialfunctions of her job. The ADA requiresaccommodation only for a “qualified individualwith a disability” who can perform her job withor without reasonable accommodation. See Vollmertv. Wisconsin Dep’t of Transp., 197 F.3d 293, 297(7th Cir. 1999). The ADA thus mandates that anemployer make reasonable accommodations only ifaccommodation would permit the disabled employeeto perform her job, and an employer need notgrant a disabled employee’s request for anaccommodation that would be an “inefficaciouschange.” Vande Zande v. Wisconsin Dep’t ofAdmin., 44 F.3d 538, 542 (7th Cir. 1995). In Weigel v. Target Stores, 122 F.3d 461, 469(7th Cir. 1997), we affirmed summary judgment forthe defendant and held that the plaintiff failedto show that she was a qualified individual underthe ADA. The plaintiff, who undisputedly couldnot work without accommodation, rested her claimentirely on a doctor’s affidavit that “there wasa good chance” that she could return to work withher requested accommodation of extended medicalleave, which the employer had rejected. This bareassertion without any further explanation was”simply too conclusory and uninformative to begiven any weight” because “we [were] left totallyin the dark” about the bases for the doctor’sopinion. Weigel, 122 F.3d at 469. The doctorindicated nothing about the plaintiff’scondition, past responsivity to treatment or thereasons that Weigel’s condition would improvewith accommodation. Without any additionalevidence that she could perform her job withreasonable accommodation, Weigel could not showthat she was a qualified individual under theADA. Contrary to United’s assertions, however, Gilepresented far more credible evidence about hercondition and the expected effect of a transferto a daytime shift than the lone, conclusoryaffidavit presented by the plaintiff in Weigel.Unlike the plaintiff in Weigel, Gile presented anendless stream of documentation from Orlandinoabout her psychological symptoms and the need fora transfer to a daytime shift. Orlandino testified that Gile’s anticipatory anxiety overbeing able to get enough sleep each night and thesheer exhaustion from insomnia exacerbated Gile’scondition. She and Gile explained to McGuffinthat regular daytime work would have stabilizedher sleep patterns and reduced the anxiety andstress attendant to her psychological conditions.Although a shift transfer may not have curedGile’s condition altogether, a rational juryeasily could conclude that a shift transfer wouldhave alleviated her symptoms such that Gile couldhave performed her job. Indeed, once Gilereturned to work on daytime shifts in April 1994,Gile’s condition did benefit from the regularwork and sleep schedule. Gile sufficientlyestablished that she was a qualified individualwith a disability who could have performed herjob with reasonable accommodation. Second, United claims that it is entitled tojudgment as a matter of law because, according toUnited, Gile obstructed the interactive processby failing to avail herself of United’s biddingand competitive transfer procedures. To begin,United mistakes Gile’s obligation in theinteractive process. In Hendricks-Robinson v.Excel Corp., 154 F.3d 685, 693 (7th Cir. 1998),we presented the respective obligations ofemployer and disabled employee in executing theaccommodation process. The employee first muststart by informing the employer of herdisability. See id. Gile duly notified United ofher disability and requested accommodation. Atthat point, the ADA obligates the employer to”engage with the employee in an ‘interactiveprocess’ to determine the appropriateaccommodation under the circumstances.” Bombardv. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 563(7th Cir. 1996). This step “imposes a duty uponemployers to engage in a flexible, interactiveprocess with the disabled employee needingaccommodation so that, together, they mightidentify the employee’s precise limitations anddiscuss accommodation which might enable theemployee to continue working.” Hendricks-Robinson, 154 F.3d at 693 (internal citationsomitted); see also Miller v. Illinois Dep’t ofCorrections, 107 F.3d 483, 486-87 (7th Cir. 1997)(holding that the employer must “ascertainwhether he has some job that the employee mightbe able to fill.”). Although United argues thatGile’s proposed accommodation would have beenineffective, United had the affirmativeobligation to seek Gile out and work with her tocraft a reasonable accommodation, if possible,that would have permitted her return to work. SeeHendricks, 154 F.3d at 693; Bultemeyer v. FortWayne Community Sch., 100 F.3d 1281, 1286 (7thCir. 1996). It is here that United flunked its obligationsunder the ADA. In the face of Gile’s repeatedpleas for a shift transfer, United refused herrequest for a modest accommodation, then didnothing to engage with Gile in determiningalternative accommodations that might permit Gileto continue working. McGuffin provided no help atall except to suggest that Gile “just resign andstay home.” United’s only action in thesubsequent months was to terminate Gile inJanuary–a move that United subsequentlydisclaimed. Unlike Weiler v. Household FinanceCorp., 101 F.3d 519, 526 (7th Cir. 1996), wherethe plaintiff requested a transfer which wouldhave required either creation of a new positionor bumping another employee, and the defendantcontacted the plaintiff about five availablepositions as alternative accommodations, Unitedmade no effort to accommodate Gile. However, United contends that it did notapproach Gile and engage in the interactiveprocess because Gile readily possessed the meansto obtain reasonable accommodation by herselfwithout United’s help. United concedes thatdaytime and evening positions were vacantthroughout the period during which Gile wasrequesting a transfer, but notes that Gile wasentitled by seniority to an evening shiftposition if she had participated in United’sNovember 1992 bidding process. United argues thatGile should have bid for a transfer in November,even though she was no longer working and was onindefinite medical leave, and she would havereceived the transfer that she requested. WhenGile failed to bid for one of the vacant daytimepositions, United claims that it could do nothingmore for her. United protests that it would haveconstituted prohibited “affirmative action” forUnited to have reassigned Gile to a daytime shiftoutside the November bidding process, even forpositions that remained open after biddingclosed. We disagree. Under the circumstances, the ADA required thatUnited transfer Gile to a vacant daytimeposition. Although the ADA does not obligateemployers to “bump” other employees or create newpositions, sec. 12111(9) of the ADA requires anemployer to reassign a disabled employee to avacant position for which the employee isotherwise qualified. See Gile, 95 F.3d at 499;Hendricks-Robinson, 154 F.3d at 694-95; Dalton v.Subaru-Isuzu Automotive, Inc., 141 F.3d 667, 678(7th Cir. 1998); DePaoli v. Abbott Laboratories,140 F.3d 668, 675 (7th Cir. 1998). The employeris obligated to “identify the full range ofalternative positions for which the individualsatisfies the employer’s legitimate,nondiscriminatory prerequisites” and consider”transferring the employee to any of these otherjobs, including those that would represent ademotion.” Dalton, 141 F.3d at 678. United is wrong to say that it constitutes “affirmativeaction” to reassign Gile to a vacant position forwhich she was entitled by seniority and whichwould have accommodated her disability. If Unitedhad reassigned Gile as she requested, the onlypreferential treatment of Gile would have beenthat, unlike nondisabled employees who were noton medical leave, she did not have to fulfill thetechnical requirement of casting her Novemberbid. Although the ADA does not require the employerto abandon its legitimate policies regarding jobqualifications and entitlements to companytransfers, United cannot seriously claim that theprocedural requirement of November bidding wastoo important for United to bypass when daytimepositions remained vacant after the biddingprocess. In Hendricks-Robinson, the defendant’spolicy of posting job openings and insisting thatdisabled employees independently learn of andapply for new positions was insufficient tosatisfy the employer’s duty under the ADA toinvestigate the possibility of transferringdisabled employees. Hendricks-Robinson, 154 F.3dat 694. Likewise, United failed its duty ofreasonable accommodation because it took noaction other than to reject Gile’s request. Byrefusing her request and assuming no further dutyto accommodate because its shift bidding processwas in place, United failed its ADA obligation. B. Jury Instruction Under Sutton At trial, the district court instructed thejury that it should assess Gile’s disabilitywithout regard to mitigating measures, namely themedications that Gile took to treat herdepression and anxiety. A few months after thetrial’s close, the Supreme Court decided Suttonv. United Airlines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471, 119 S.Ct.2139, 2143 (1999), and held that “thedetermination of whether an individual isdisabled should be made with reference tomeasures that mitigate the individual’simpairment.” Gile admits that the juryinstruction in this case was therefore improperunder the Supreme Court’s subsequent holding inSutton, but explains that United could presentscant evidence that this error prejudiced United.Indeed, to win a new trial based on an incorrectjury instruction, United must show both that (1)the instruction inadequately states SeventhCircuit law; and (2) the error likely confused ormisled the jury causing prejudice to theappellant. See Doe v. Burnham, 6 F.3d 476, 479(7th Cir. 1993). This is another onerous burdenfor United because, even if the jury instructionwas patently incorrect, United still mustestablish that it was prejudiced by the improperinstruction. See EEOC v. AIC SecurityInvestigations, Ltd., 55 F.3d 1276, 1283 (7thCir. 1995). United is correct that the juryinstruction was improper under Sutton, but Unitedis wrong to say that it made any difference here. United went so far to declare in its replybrief that evidence which Gile proffered todisprove prejudice is “irrelevant.” It is bothrelevant and the reason that United loses thisclaim on appeal. United alleges only that Gile’scondition improved under medication, and that thejury was not given the chance to conclude thatGile was not disabled when medicated. United doesnot demonstrate that substantial harm flowed fromthe improper jury instruction, and itsspeculation that the jury might have decided thecase differently if given the proper instructionis insufficient to establish prejudice. In fact,we doubt that the improper jury instructionresulted in substantial harm because Gilesuffered significant impairment despite themedication. Gile began taking medication inSeptember 1992, and nearly all the relevantevents of the case occurred while Gile was takingregular medication but still suffering seriousdepression and anxiety. The jury instruction washarmless error. C. Punitive Damages United moved at the end of trial for judgmentas a matter of law on punitive damages, but thedistrict court denied United’s motion and thejury awarded $500,000 to Gile in punitivedamages, later limited in accordance with 42U.S.C. sec. 1981a. United now appeals, arguingthat the district court’s instruction on punitivedamages violated the Supreme Court’s recentdecision in Kolstad v. American Dental Ass’n, 527U.S. 526, 119 S.Ct. 2118 (1999). We review denovo the district court’s denial of motion forjudgment as a matter of law. See Tincher, 118F.3d at 1132. The district court may award punitive damagesin connection with an ADA claim when thedefendant engaged in a “discriminatory practiceor discriminatory practices with malice orreckless indifference to the federally protectedrights of an aggrieved individual.” See 42 U.S.C.sec. 1981a(b)(1). In Kolstad, a discriminationcase under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42U.S.C. secs. 2000e to 2000e-17, the SupremeCourt decided that establishing the requisite”malice or reckless indifference” depends not onthe egregiousness of the employer’s misconduct,but instead on the “employer’s knowledge that itmay be acting in violation of federal law.”Kolstad, 119 S.Ct. at 2124. Punitive damages areproper when the employer discriminates “in theface of a perceived risk that its actions willviolate federal law.” Id. at 2125. It is clear that McGuffin and Gile’s floorsupervisors knew of the ADA and United’sreasonable accommodation policy, but United didnot act with reckless disregard for Gile’s ADArights. Gile’s supervisors deferred to McGuffin’sevaluation, and McGuffin believed that a shifttransfer would not have accommodated Gile’sdisability. McGuffin in good faith disagreed withOrlandino that a shift transfer would enable Gileto work and believed that Gile’s psychologicalcondition was a nonoccupational, personal problemwhich did not trigger any obligation under theADA on United’s part. Punitive damages depend noton the egregiousness of the defendant’smisconduct, or its callousness in denyingreasonable accommodation, but instead run from aculpable state of mind regarding whether thatdenial of accommodation violates federal law. SeeKolstad, 119 S.Ct. at 2124; see also Deters v.Equifax Credit Info. Servs., 202 F.3d 1262, 1269(10th Cir. 2000). United’s failure to accommodateGile’s disability amounted to negligence becauseit misunderstood Gile’s difficulties, did notregard her condition a disability and neglectedto pursue Gile in developing an alternativeaccommodation. Although United wrongly believedthat Gile was not disabled under the ADA and didnot adequately address her accommodation request,United did not exhibit the requisite recklessstate of mind regarding whether its treatment ofGile violated the ADA. The district court shouldhave granted United’s motion for judgment as amatter of law regarding punitive damages, and wewill reverse the award of punitive damages,leaving Gile with a judgment for $200,000 incompensatory damages. III. Conclusion For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM the judgmentfor Cheryl Gile of compensatory damages but REVERSEthe award of punitive damages. DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judge, concurring in partand dissenting in part. I agree with theconclusion of the majority in Parts II.A. andII.B. of the opinion that United Airlines hasshown no reason to upset the jury’s verdict infavor of Cheryl Gile on compensatory damages andthat the erroneous instruction about mitigatingmeasures was harmless error. I would not,however, reverse the jury’s award of punitivedamages, reduced as it was required to be under42 U.S.C. sec. 1981a(b)(3) from $500,000 to$100,000 (which kept the total verdict within thestatutory $300,000 cap). As the majority states,under Kolstad v. American Dental Ass’n, 527 U.S.526, 119 S.Ct. 2118 (1999), the requisite maliceor reckless indifference required for a punitivedamage award is present when the employerdiscriminates “in the face of a perceived riskthat its actions will violate federal law.” 527U.S. at ___, 119 S.Ct. at 2125. The jury was entitled to find, as it did, thatthis is precisely what United did, through itsauthorized decisionmaker, Regional MedicalDirector Dr. Robert McGuffin. McGuffin wasresponsible for handling the accommodationprocess for United employees whose medicalcondition called into question their fitness towork. He unquestionably knew about United’s ADApolicy, as the majority agrees. The jury did notbelieve that McGuffin seriously thought that ashift transfer would not have accommodated Gile’sdisability, or that his view was formed in goodfaith. Instead, he behaved with astonishingcallousness in the face of Gile’s disability,twice insensitively telling her she should justquit or resign and dismissing her complaints as”mere” personal problems in the face of theextensive medical documentation to the contraryfrom a professional United itself recommended. Ido not disagree with the majority that the recorddid not compel a finding of malice or recklessindifference; had Gile filed a proper partialRule 50 motion, she would not have been entitledto judgment as a matter of law on that point. Buton this record the jury was certainly entitled tofind that United had engaged in recklessbehavior. I therefore respectfully dissent from Part II.C.of the opinion, which reverses the jury’s awardof punitive damages.
Gile v. United Airlines, Inc. In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit No. 99-2509 Cheryl A. Gile, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. United Airlines, Inc., Defendant-Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Courtfor the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.No. 94 C 1692–Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Judge. Argued January 18, 2000–Decided May 22, 2000 Before Easterbrook, Kanne and Diane P. Wood, Circuit Judges.
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