Babb v. Maryville Anesthesiologists, P.C., No. 19-5148 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Babb worked as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Maryville, a small practice group. Approximately a month into her employment, one of Maryville’s physician-owners observed Babb “placing her face very close to a computer screen.” Babb stated that she suffered from a “degenerative retinal condition” that made it hard for her to read certain screens and medical records but that this disorder did not affect her ability to do her job. Other Maryville physician-owners later raised similar concerns regarding Babb’s vision. At a meeting, Babb explained her diagnosis and insisted that the disorder did not affect her ability to do her job, One doctor asked Babb if she had “disability insurance.” Others requested a report by an ophthalmologist. One opined that they might have to “talk to [their] attorney.” Babb’s annual evaluations mentioned Babb’s vision problems. Babb subsequently committed clinical errors unrelated to her vision. In communicating its decision to terminate Babb, Maryville focused exclusively on her clinical errors. Babb claims nobody had criticized her anesthesiology techniques before her termination. An internal email focused on Babb’s worsening vision problems. Babb sued Maryville under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibition on discrimination against employees “regarded as” disabled, 42 U.S.C. 12102(1)(C). The district court granted Maryville summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The district court overlooked too many genuine factual disputes and improperly excluded expert testimony favorable to Babb.