In Collum v. Knife River, a Sacramento jury determined that employer Concrete Inc. discriminated against disabled employee Stewart Collum by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation, and by failing to engage in an interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation were possible. The jury awarded $15K in damages.
According to plaintiff attorney Galen Shimoda, Stewart Cullom was an experienced concrete mixer driver who was discharged after suffering a rotator cuff injury. To continue in his position, he needed to be able to use aluminum chutes for pouring the concrete, instead of steel chutes, because aluminum chutes weighed only 25 pounds, instead of 50 pounds. Aluminum chutes would have cost approximately $1,000, but were not provided by the employer.
For the defense, Kroloff's Thomas Perry told the jury that Cullom's shoulder problems would not have been resolved by the use of the lighter, aluminum chutes. Mr. Perry explained that Mr. Collum continued to suffer pain even without any lifting at all, and could not bat, throw, or bowl. Therefore, because Mr. Collum could not lift any weight without experiencing pain, and because Mr. Collum's condition was not repairable and would only get worse, he was unable to do his job even with an accommodation.
The jury found that Cullom could have done his job with a reasonable accommodation, and awarded $12,000 in past earnings, and $3,000 in past non-economic damages.