By Debra Hulett
The Iowa Supreme Court’s recent Nelson v. Knight opinion is the first decision this term interpreting the Iowa Civil Rights Act. This term, the Court will likely decide at least two other appeals presenting questions regarding the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Two cases are set for oral argument in January 2013.
First, on January 23, 2013, the Court will hear argument in Stotler v. Delavan, Inc., on a certified question from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. In that case, the plaintiff asserts a disability-discrimination claim under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Before trial, the federal court certified a question to the Iowa Supreme Court regarding the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553 (2008) on the Iowa Civil Rights Act. More specifically, the certified question is:
In the absence of any applicable amendment to the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) regarding claims of disability discrimination, will the Iowa courts adopt the structure of the revised federal law enacted by Congress in the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA), specifically 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 and 12102, and federal regulations promulgated thereunder, when reviewing disability discrimination claims under the ICRA?
[Disclosure: An Iowa medical center represented by the Nyemaster Goode, P.C. law firm filed an amicus brief supporting the employer’s position that the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not incorporate the ADAAA].
Second, on January 24, 2013, the Court will hear argument in Ackelson v. Manley Toy Direct, L.L.C., on an interlocutory appeal. In two cases, the plaintiffs asserted employment-related claims under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and sought remedies to include punitive damages. The defendants moved to strike the plaintiffs’ prayers for punitive damages, arguing that the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not authorize punitive damages for employment-practice claims. The district court granted the motions to strike; then the plaintiffs applied for interlocutory appeal. The defendants did not resist the application and asked the Iowa Supreme Court to grant the interlocutory appeal. In March 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court granted the applications for interlocutory appeal in both cases and later consolidated the two appeals. [Disclosure: The Nyemaster Goode, P.C. law firm represents the defendants in this appeal].