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Court Revives Officer's Tase-Me-Not Case

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 20, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jacqueline Lewis had a good reason not to get tased as part of her police training.

Nobody wants to get tased, but Lewis had another reason. She had a minor heart condition, and her doctor said she should not be subjected to the shock devices.

So the Union City Police Department didn't tase her; it fired her. She sued and asked for a jury to decide her case, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals saw it her way in Lewis v. City of Union City.

Five-Second Shock

Lewis had been working for the police department for nine years, when she had a minor heart attack. She returned to work later with no restrictions.

However, the police chief wanted to equip and train his officers with tasers. Part of the training required them to receive a five-second shock.

When Lewis refused based on her doctor's advice, she was terminated. Lewis sued for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A trial judge dismissed the complaint on summary judgment, but the Eleventh Circuit reversed. A two-judge majority said she deserves a jury to sort out the facts.

Race, Gender, or Disability

The panel said the jury may find she was fired based on her race, gender or disability.

But Judge Gerald Tjoflat dissented. "Lewis has not put forth a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence that would tend to show that the Police Department intentionally discriminated against her based on her race or gender," he said.

That will be up to the jury to decide, the majority said.

"In the last analysis, the evidence before the district court properly might have yielded any of a number of conclusions," Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote.

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