Okwu v. McKim

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 06-12-2012
  • Case #: 11-15369
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and N. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

“Congress’s inclusion of a comprehensive remedial scheme in Title I of the ADA precludes § 1983 claims predicated on alleged violations of ADA Title I substantive rights.”

Josephine Okwu brought suit against members of the California Department of Transportation (“Caltrans”), a former employer, and members of the California Public Employees Retirement System (“CalPERS”) for discrimination, in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Okwu alleged that Caltrans deprived her of a “reasonable accommodation under the ADA and the equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment” by failing to reinstate her from disability retirement to active service. Okwu, who suffers from severe psychological disorders, negotiated a settlement with Caltrans to receive disability retirement through CalPERS, and eventually sought reinstatement to active employment. The administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denied her request for reinstatement, and the CalPERS Board of Administration affirmed the ALJ’s decision. The district court found that Okwu’s complaint failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted, and dismissed the claim with prejudice. The Ninth Circuit cited Vinson v. Thomas for the proposition that an “alleged violation of federal law may not be vindicated under § 1983…where… ‘Congress has foreclosed citizen enforcement in the enactment itself…by imbuing it with its own comprehensive remedial scheme.’” The Court held that Congress drafted the ADA with a comprehensive remedial scheme, intending to foreclose “§ 1983 claims predicated on an alleged violation of ADA Title I substantive rights.” The Court also affirmed that Okwu failed to state a claim under the Equal Protection Clause. AFFIRMED.

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