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Murray v. Mayo Clinic

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 20, 2019

Michael J. Murray, M.D. - a married man, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota nonprofit corporation; Mayo Clinic Arizona, an Arizona nonprofit corporation; Wyatt Decker, M.D. - husband; Georgianna Decker, wife; Lois Krahn, M.D. - wife; Eric Gordon, M.D. - husband; Terrence Trentman, M.D. - husband; Laralee Trentman, wife; William Stone, M.D. - husband; Maree Stone, wife; David Rosenfeld, M.D. - husband; Melissa Rosenfeld, M.D. - wife; Roshanak Didehban, a single woman, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted June 13, 2019 San Francisco, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court, No. 2:14-cv-01314-SPL, for the District of Arizona Steven Paul Logan, District Judge, Presiding

          Roger L. Cohen (argued), Jaburg Wilk P.C., Phoenix, Arizona; Scott A. Blaney, Blaney Law PLLC, Phoenix, Arizona; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          John F. Lomax, Jr. (argued) and Kelly Kszywienski, Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., Phoenix, Arizona, for Defendants-Appellees.

          Before: Ronald M. Gould and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges, and Benita Y. Pearson, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Employment Discrimination

         The panel affirmed the district court's judgment, after a jury trial, in favor of the defendants in an employment discrimination action under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

         The panel held that the district court correctly instructed the jury to apply a but for causation standard, rather than a motivating factor standard. The panel concluded that Head v. Glacier Northwest, Inc., 413 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 2005), holding that ADA discrimination claims are evaluated under a motivating factor causation standard, is no longer good law because its reasoning is clearly irreconcilable with the Supreme Court's rulings in Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009), and Univ. of Texas Southwestern Med. Ctr. v. Nassar, 570 U.S. 338 (2013). Agreeing with other circuits, the panel held that an ADA discrimination plaintiff bringing a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 12112 must show that the adverse employment action would not have occurred but for the disability.

         The panel addressed other issues in a simultaneously filed memorandum disposition.

          OPINION

          PEARSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Michael Murray appeals the district court's instruction to the jury on his claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), requiring him to prove that he was discharged because of his disability. Murray claims that our decision in Head v. Glacier Northwest, Inc., 413 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 2005), holding ADA discrimination claims are evaluated under a motivating factor causation standard, remains good law. Because it is not, we affirm.[1]

         I.

         Dr. Murray filed suit against Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Drs. Wyatt Decker, Lois Krahn, Terrence Trentman, William Stone, and David Rosenfeld, and Operations Administrator Roshanak Didehban. In anticipation of trial, the parties submitted joint proposed jury instructions. The parties disagreed whether Murray's ADA discrimination claim should be tried under a but-for causation standard or a motivating factor causation standard. Murray argued that our decision in Head required him to show only that the defendants' belief that he had a disability was a motivating factor in their adverse employment decision. He accordingly requested the following instruction:

As to Dr. Murray's claim that his disability was the reason for Mayo Clinic Arizona's decision to discharge him, Dr. Murray has the burden of proving the following evidence by a preponderance of the evidence:
3. Dr. Murray was discharged because Defendants regarded him as disabled, which means that Defendants' belief that Plaintiff had a disability was a motivating factor in Defendants' decision to terminate him.

         The district court instead instructed the jury to apply a but-for causation standard to Murray's ADA claim. The instruction provided that Murray must prove he was discharged because of his disability:

As to Dr. Murray's claim that his disability was the reason for Mayo Clinic Arizona's decision to discharge him, Dr. Murray has the burden of proving the following ...

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