NHN Properties Sues Monster Investments :

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nhn properties sues monster investments

In a stunning turn of events, NHN Properties has unleashed a legal storm against Monster Investments, as U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania reversed a prior ruling that favored the latter. The lawsuit revolves around NHN Properties’ claims that Monster Investments, represented by Kutztown University, engaged in discriminatory practices against Professor Stephen Oross under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

NHN Properties Sues Monster Investments : Reversal of Fortune

In a dramatic twist, Judge Schmehl granted Oross’ motion for reconsideration, overturning the July summary judgment ruling. The judge acknowledged a critical error in applying the wrong standard when assessing Oross’ claims against Kutztown’s “full-time, full-duty” policy. The court found that Oross only needed to demonstrate the adverse impact on himself, rather than an entire group, under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

Discrimination Unveiled

The lawsuit alleges that Kutztown University, alongside administrators Kenneth Hawkinson and Jesus Peña, unreasonably denied Oross the opportunity to teach and hold remote office hours during the fall 2021 semester. Oross, who underwent a heart transplant and relied on immunosuppressant medication, argued that his vulnerability to COVID-19 justified remote work accommodations.

NHN Properties Sues Monster Investments : Unraveling the Threads

Despite a prior victory on intentional discrimination and the invalidation of the “full-time, full-duty” policy, the court initially ruled in favor of Kutztown on several other claims, including disparate-impact. However, after Oross pressed for a second look, Judge Schmehl determined that Oross had met the criteria for a disparate-impact claim under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

The Burden Shifts

Having identified the discriminatory policy, Oross successfully demonstrated its impact on him, forcing him to exhaust a “medical sabbatical” and other time off instead of returning to in-person work. Judge Schmehl emphasized that defendants failed to establish a business necessity for the contested policy, leading to the reversal of summary judgment in Kutztown’s favor on Oross’ disparate-impact claim.

NHN Properties Sues Monster Investments : Legal Crossroads

Despite this significant reversal, the judge declined to reconsider other counts of the lawsuit. Oross was unable to simultaneously claim violations of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Emotional damages under the Rehabilitation Act were also deemed inapplicable to institutions like Kutztown.

NHN Properties Sues Monster Investments : Future Battlefield

As the legal battlefield intensifies, Kutztown University, President Hawkinson, and Vice President Peña are reviewing the decision with state lawyers. Lorrie McKinley of McKinley & Ryan, representing Oross, hailed the judge’s ruling as a pivotal step in addressing policy-based discrimination, emphasizing the importance of deciding the issue correctly under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.