FRL 302 – Professor Young
This appellate case is about a man, Michael Kleiber who suffered a debilitating head injury that ultimately lead to his job termination as a factory worker for Honda. Honda claimed that they were unable to accommodate Kleiber’s disability on the basis that Kleiber was not able to perform the job tasks for any alternate job positions. Honda terminated Kleiber; thus, Kleiber filed suit in a federal District Court of Ohio claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the basis that Honda failed to accommodate Kleiber’s disabilities. The District Court case ended with a summary judgment in favor of Honda. Kleiber then filed for appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. See Appendix ‘A’ for a detailed timeline of relevant events.
Michael Kleiber worked for ten years as a full-time Production Associate in the Assembly Department for Honda’s Marysville, Ohio plant. On November 21, 1999, Kleiber fell from a fence while working at his parents’ home. Kleiber suffered a head injury as a result of the fall. The injury was not within the scope of his work at Honda. Kleiber remained hospitalized for two months with serious head injuries. While at the hospital, Kleiber was under the care of Dr. Jerry Mysiw, Director of the Ohio State University’s Head Injury Diagnostic Clinic whom he saw every three to four months after being released from the hospital.
In March of 2000, Kleiber failed a driving exam. Also in late March, Kleiber met with a counselor from the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehab (“BVR”). The BVR determined that Kleiber was eligible for its services in April of 2000 and assigned a BVR representative, Rodney Brandel, for Kleiber to facilitate Kleiber’s return to his job position at Honda. Kleiber participated in physical therapy until August 2000 when he was able to carry most items on level surfaces while his occupational therapy continued well into 2001. Kleiber also failed a second driving exam in August 2000.
On August 17, 2000, Brandel arranged for Kleiber to undergo a neuropsychological evaluation where Dr. James Arnett found deficits with attention and concentration including memory, problem-solving abilities and manual dexterity. Other restrictions were noted for “mild to moderate impairment of brain function”, unknown level of safety while working in “high risk activities” and possible attention span deficits while working in “chaotic environments.” Thereafter on September 12, 2000, Brandel met with Dr. Arnett, Kleiber and Kleiber’s parents to discuss the evaluation results as well as prospects for Kleiber to return to Honda.
However, at the time of the meeting, Brandel did not expect that Kleiber would be able to immediately return to his job position at Honda. Brandel also believed that no one else at the meeting had the expectation that Kleiber would immediately return to work. Brandel then expressed to Honda that Kleiber wished to return to work at Honda. On October 10, 2000, Dr. Mysiw filled out a Honda document labeled a “Work Capacity Form” acknowledging Kleiber’s restrictions were “cognitive—i.e., memory, attention…requiring supervision and possibly a job coach.” Dr. Mysiw also specified that Kleiber was unable to work in an environment of “unrestricted heights” and that Kleiber’s work endurance was “likely poor.” Brandel submitted this form to Honda.
Doug Bigler, Honda’s placement leader for the Marysville plant, and Cathy Cronley, Honda’s in-house R.N., began to identify possible positions for Kleiber such as Right Rear Beam Tighten position in the Assembly Department, the Front Bumper Install position in the Assembly Department and processes in the Paint Department. All were concluded as not being suitable for Kleiber since all were on...