Till Death Do Compensatory Damages Part . . . Or Not: Eight Circuit Finds Compensatory Damages Claim Under the ADA Lives Past Claimant’s Death
On Thursday, January 19, 2017, the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion in Guenther v. Griffin Constr. Co., 16-1760 (8th Cir. Jan. 19, 2017), and held that a claim for compensatory damages brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) survives the death of the aggrieved party. The case involved an employee who was terminated from Griffin Construction in 2008 after overseeing construction projects for four (4) years. He claimed that he was terminated as a result of his diagnosis with cancer.
The former employee filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, but died before the administrative process was complete. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter, having found reasonable cause, and the administrator of the estate filed suit under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act as well as Title I of the ADA. Griffin Construction moved to dismiss (arguing the claims did not survive death) and the district court agreed, finding the ADA claim abated at death and entered judgment on the pleadings for Griffin Construction.