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Den Hartog v. Wasatch Academy
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
129 F.3d 1076 (1997)
Howard Den Hartog (plaintiff) taught at Wasatch Academy (Wasatch) (defendant), a boarding school, for over 25 years. In 1993, Nathaniel Den Hartog, Howard’s 21-year-old son, lived with Howard on Wasatch’s campus. Nathaniel had bipolar affective disorder, which sometimes caused Nathaniel to experience manic episodes. Wasatch terminated Howard in 1994, after Nathaniel attacked and threatened several members of the Wasatch community during manic episodes. Wasatch’s official position was that Nathaniel’s position was eliminated, but Wasatch’s headmaster, Joseph Loftin (defendant), conceded that it was very possible that Howard would have remained employed absent Nathaniel’s behavior. Howard sued Wasatch and Loftin in federal district court, alleging that his termination was impermissible association discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a breach of his employment contract. Wasatch and Loftin moved for summary judgment, arguing in relevant part that they had not violated the ADA because Nathaniel was a direct threat to Wasatch community members. The district court granted Wasatch and Loftin’s summary-judgment motion regarding the ADA claim, reasoning that the ADA prohibits only discrimination based on a disability and not discrimination based on the disabled person’s misconduct. However, the district court denied summary judgment regarding Howard’s breach-of-contract claim. A jury determined that Wasatch had not breached its employment contract with Howard. Howard appealed, arguing in relevant part that the district court had erred by granting summary judgment against his ADA claim.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ebel, J.)
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