Gambini v. Total Renal Care, Inc., 2007 WL 686350 (9th Cir. Mar. 8, 2007)

Stephanie Gambini sued her former employer, Total Renal Care, Inc., d/b/a DaVita, Inc., alleging that it had discriminated against her in violation of Washington state law prohibiting disability discrimination and the federal Family Medical Leave Act. Gambini was terminated from her employment as a contracts clerk after she exhibited a “violent outburst” in response to the presentation to her of a performance improvement plan concerning her “attitude and general disposition.” Six months before the incident, Gambini had experienced an emotional breakdown at work and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. DaVita prevailed at trial, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment as to the disability claim, finding reversible error in the trial court’s refusal to give the following jury instruction: “Conduct resulting from a disability is part of the disability and not a separate basis for termination.” The Court found no error in the jury instructions the district court provided regarding the FMLA claim. Compare Walton v. United States Marshals Serv., 476 F.3d 723 (9th Cir. 2007) (federal court security officer was not discriminated against on the basis of a disability for failure to meet audiological standards); Adams v. State of Cal., 2007 WL 446582 (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2007) (claims duplicative of previously dismissed claims were properly dismissed).