Plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim dismissed because he presented insufficient evidence of a causal connection between the disability and reasons for termination

Dallas County Schools v. Paul Green 05-14-00432-CV (Tex. App. —  Dallas, January 19, 2016)

This is a disability discrimination case under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“TCHRA”) where the court of appeals reversed a trial court judgment holding the evidence was insufficient.

Paul Green had a congestive heart failure condition while employed by the Dallas County Schools (“DCS”) as a bus monitor. His employment was terminated after an episode while he was on his assigned school bus. Essentially Green urinated on the bus due to his inability to control his bladder. Green sued claiming his disability was a motivating factor in DCS’s decision to fire him. After a jury trial awarded a judgment for Green the DCS appealed.

At trial, three medical experts testified about congestive heart failure, the drug Coreg, and urinary incontinence. Green maintained that he was fired for urinating on himself. DCS, however, asserts it terminated Green because he failed to protect the students’ health and safety.  Green did not wash his hands after urinating on himself even when handling disabled students. To establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination under the TCHRA, a plaintiff must show he suffered an adverse employment decision “because of his disability.” In order for the jury to find that DCS terminated Green’s employment because of his congestive heart failure, there must be some evidence linking that disability to the urination episode on the bus. The only explanation Green offered was that his Coreg medication allegedly caused his urination episode.  Green’s own expert testified congestive heart failure would not necessarily lead to the inability to control one’s bladder. Nothing in Green’s medical records indicated he suffered from an overactive bladder so no doctor would have been on notice he suffered from such a condition. After examining the testimony of the other experts, the court held there was insufficient evidence to link Green’s condition to his termination. As a result, the court reversed the jury finding and rendered judgment for DCS.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Justice Fillmore, Justice Myers and Justice Whitehill. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Whitehill.  The attorneys listed for Green are Bruce K. Thomas, Javier Perez, and Matthew R. Scott.  The attorneys listed for the School are Christine Roseveare and P. Michael Jung.