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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Hector M. Laffitte, U.S. District Judge]

Unlike other areas of discrimination law where the protected status of the plaintiff (e.g., race or gender) is usually not at issue, the law of disability discrimination often presents a threshold question of whether a plaintiff is in fact disabled. This question frequently arises when the plaintiff is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome (“CTS”), an affliction that can result from repetitive motion injury. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. � 12101 et seq., the term “disability” has a specialized meaning, more restrictive at times than the meaning in the common use of the term “disabled.” Under the ADA a person must not only have a disability in the sense of a physical or mental “impairment,” but, importantly, that impairment must also “substantially limit” a “major life activity.” 42 U.S.C. � 12102(2)(A). The CTS cases often turn on these last two prongs, and the results vary with the individualized facts of a given case. That is particularly so when the “major life activity” claimed to be impaired is that of “working.”

The district court here entered summary judgment against plaintiff Lisa Gelabert-Ladenheim’s ADA employment claim, concluding that because defendant American Airlines reasonably accommodated her alleged disability, namely, CTS, it did not violate the Act. See Gelabert-Ladenheim v. American Airlines, Inc., 115 F. Supp. 2d 225 (D.P.R. 2000). We affirm on the different ground that the plaintiff has not produced sufficient evidence on summary judgment that her impairment substantially limits a major life activity, and so she does not meet the specialized definition of the term “disabled.”

 
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