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VALLE v. CITY OF CHICAGO

September 30, 1997

SALVADOR VALLE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, Chief Judge:

 Plaintiff Salvadore Valle has sued the City of Chicago for violating his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 121011-12213. The City has moved to dismiss the Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

 I. Background

 Salvadore Valle would like to be a Chicago policeman. Valle took his first step toward achieving this goal in December 1995 when he was hired by the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") as a probationary police officer. See Compl. P 7. As part of the Basic Recruit Training Program in which he was enrolled, Valle was required to participate in physical training classes. See id. These classes required prospective officers to engage in strenuous physical exercise: in particular, recruits had to demonstrate an ability to run 1.5 miles in under 15 minutes. See id. P 13. *fn1" Valle was unable to satisfy this requirement due to a condition known as "rhabdomyolysis," which causes the "breakdown-damage of muscle tissue due to heavy physical exertion." Id. P 8. This condition caused Valle to faint and become seriously ill when attempting to meet the Training Program's running requirement. See id. PP 8-10.

 When Valle was unable to complete the December Training Program, the CPD allowed him to withdraw and gave him a clerical position while he prepared to try again in the March 1996 Program. See id. P 9. Unfortunately, Valle's rhabdomyolysis prevented him from successfully completing the March Program, and he elected to take a leave of absence so that he could participate in a "physical reconditioning" program prescribed by his doctor. Id. P 11. While he was on leave, Valle requested that the CPD accommodate his condition by relaxing its running requirement. See id. P 13. In October 1996, the CPD denied Valle's request and canceled his leave of absence, thereby terminating him as a probationary police officer. See id. P 15. Valle now claims that the CPD's refusal to accommodate his disability violated the ADA.

 II. Discussion

 A. Elements of an ADA Claim

 The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against any "qualified individual with a disability because of the disability." 42 U.S.C. § 12112. The ADA addresses two general types of discrimination: (1) prototypical cases of disparate treatment, where an employer takes an adverse action against a disabled person because of a bias against persons with that type of disability, see id. § 12112(b)(1), and (2) cases where an employer refuses to make "reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability," see id. § 12112(b)(5). Courts treat these two types of claims differently in terms of the prima facie showing required of plaintiffs, and thus "it is important for the plaintiff to be clear about the nature of the claim he or she is asserting." Weigel v. Target Stores, 122 F.3d 461, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 22747, *6, 1997 WL 526163, at *2 (7th Cir. 1997).

 Although Valle's Complaint lacks the requisite clarity, see Compl. P 16 (stating that the CPD "unlawfully discriminated against Officer Valle because of his disability of Rhabdomyolysis by limiting his employment opportunities and/or by denying him a reasonable accommodation . . . ."), the parties' briefs indicate that they view this case as falling within the "reasonable accommodations" genre. See Def.'s Br. at 4; Pl.'s Br. at 2. Accordingly, Valle must allege facts sufficient to establish that: (1) he is disabled within the meaning of the ADA, (2) he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation, and (3) he was excluded from the job solely because of his disability. See Bultemeyer v. Fort Wayne Community Sch., 100 F.3d 1281, 1284 (7th Cir. 1996); see also Knapp v. Northwestern University, 101 F.3d 473, 478 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 138 L. Ed. 2d 212, 117 S. Ct. 2454 (1997); Byrne v. Board of Educ., 979 F.2d 560, 563 (7th Cir. 1992). *fn2"

 The parties' briefs reflect some disagreement about the degree of factual detail that Valle must include in his Complaint. The defendant attacks Valle's Complaint on the grounds that "the alleged facts do not establish that plaintiff is 'disabled' within the meaning of the ADA, and . . . they do not establish [that] he is 'otherwise qualified' to perform the essential functions of a probationary police officer." Def.'s Br. at 4. *fn3" In response, Valle contends that under the Federal Rules he is "not required and is not encouraged to allege every fact in support of the final judgment in his complaint." Pl.'s Br. at 3.

 A return to first principles is in order here. Under the Federal Rules, a Complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of such pleadings is to give "the opposing party fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds of the claim and a general indication of the type of litigation involved; the discovery process bears the burden of filling in the details." 5 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE & PROCEDURE § 1215 (2d ed. 1990). In light of this purpose,

 
pleadings need not state with precision all elements that give rise to a legal basis for recovery as long as fair notice of the nature of the action is provided. However, the complaint must contain either direct allegations on every material point necessary to sustain a recovery on any legal theory . . . or contain allegations from which an inference ...

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