December 15, 2005

Jenner & Block Associate Robin M. Meriweather recently secured a victory for Gwendolyn Smith, who filed a disability discrimination and retaliation claim against her former employer.  The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit appointed Ms. Meriweather to serve as amicus in support of Ms. Smith.  The DC Circuit panel of Judges Edwards, Tatel, and Brown overturned the lower court’s grant of summary judgment against Ms. Smith on the disability discrimination claim.

Prior to Ms. Meriweather’s appointment, the employer filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the DC Circuit lacked appellate jurisdiction, an issue that the Court specifically asked Ms. Meriweather to address in her amicus brief.  After Ms. Meriweather briefed the issue in her opening brief, the employer conceded that its objections were meritless and that the court of appeals had jurisdiction.  In its opinion, the Court was in complete agreement with Ms. Meriweather’s position.

On the merits, the DC Circuit ruled that the lower court erred in granting the employer’s late-filed summary judgment motion.  The employer’s failure to file a motion for extension of that deadline deprived the lower court of jurisdiction to review the motion, under the plain language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6.  The appellate court remanded the discrimination claim to the lower court for trial.

The victory means that Mrs. Smith can proceed to trial with her claims of disability discrimination under the American with Disabilities Act.

Ms. Meriweather briefed and argued the case before the DC Circuit, with assistance by Partner William M. Hohengarten.