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Wong v. Regents of the University of California
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
192 F.3d 807 (1999)
Andrew Wong (plaintiff) was a medical student at the University of California at Davis (the university) (defendant). Wong completed his first two years with a B grade-point average. But Wong’s performance declined after his father died. Wong’s poor performance in clinical clerkships triggered academic probation. Soon afterward, Wong was diagnosed with a learning disability that affected Wong’s abilities to process and express verbal information. Dr. Margaret Steward, a psychologist and medical-school faculty member, worked with Wong to develop accommodations. Steward recommended to Dr. Ernest Lewis, the associate dean responsible for medical students receiving disability accommodations, that Wong receive additional time to read before Wong’s next two clerkships. Steward noted that Wong’s ability to pass those clerkships would provide empirical support that Wong should receive extra reading time before his third clerkship. Wong received eight-week reading periods before his next two clerkships, and Wong earned Bs in both clerkships and very positive comments. Wong requested another eight-week reading period before the following clerkship, pediatrics. Lewis denied Wong’s request without communicating directly with Wong, Steward, or anyone who had diagnosed Wong with a learning disability. Wong received a provisional failing grade in his pediatrics clerkship, which triggered another disciplinary proceeding. Lewis ordered Wong not to tell the promotions board about Lewis’s refusal to grant Wong’s accommodation request. The promotions board decided to dismiss Wong from the medical school. The deciding factor in at least two board members’ decisions was the members’ incorrect beliefs that Wong had performed poorly in pediatrics after receiving the reading-period accommodation. Wong sued the university in federal district court, alleging that Wong’s dismissal had violated both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA). The district court granted the university’s summary-judgment motion, and Wong appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kravitch, J.)
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