Stragapede v. City of Evanston, No. 16-1344 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Stragapede worked in Evanston’s water services department for 14 years. In 2009 he suffered a traumatic brain injury at home. The city placed him on a temporary leave of absence during his recovery and rehabilitation. When he was medically cleared to return to work, Stragapede resumed full-time employment, but had some minor mishaps: he drove through an intersection while looking down and he went to the wrong address. After just a few weeks, the city again placed him on administrative leave and later terminated his employment. Stragapede sued for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101. A jury found the city liable and awarded $225,000 in damages. The judge concluded that Stragapede was entitled to back pay plus interest from the date he was fired until the time of judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that Stragapede was not a qualified person under the ADA because he was unable to perform the essential functions of his job; that even if Stragapede was qualified, he posed a direct threat to himself and to others, which is a statutory defense to liability; and that the judge incorrectly calculated the back pay award.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 8, 2017.