The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morton Denlow, United States Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On April 19, 1999, a jury returned a $20,000 verdict in favor of
Plaintiff, Stephen Price ("Price"), and against Defendant, Interstate
Warehousing, Inc., ("Interstate"), for a violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. The case is
now before the Court on the issues of back pay, prejudgment interest and
Price suffered a heart attack on September 1, 1995, and was placed on
medical leave for twelve weeks. On November 20, 1995, Price's doctor gave
him a letter stating that he could return to work; however, he could not
lift more than 20 pounds. Following a meeting between Price and
Interstate's Director of Human Resources, Interstate terminated Price
effective November 29, 1995; and notified him via's telephone call and
Price retained counsel, who sent state a letter dated December 14, 1995
requesting reinstatement. Interstate did reconsider the matter by having
Price examined by its company doctor, having him submit to a functional
capacity assessment and retaining a consultant to perform a job site
analysis. On April 29, 1996, Interstate wrote to Price and offered to
reinstate him on the condition he obtain a letter from his doctor
releasing him to return to work without any restriction.
In the meantime, in January 1996, Price took a job as a janitor with
Heritage Inn Best-Western in the St. Louis area. He has continued to
reside in the St. Louis area. In February 1996, he left Best-Western and
began work at Datastor, Inc. (now Pierce Leahy Corporation). At about the
same time, he also began working for Schnuck's Food Market. At the time
of trial, Plaintiff was earning $8.50 per hour at Pierce-Leahy
Corporation for 40 hours per week and $7.75 per hour at Schnuck's Food
Market for 32 hours per week. At the time of trial, a warehouse worker at
Interstate was earning $11.50 per hour.
The jury found Interstate violated the ADA and awarded Price $20,000 in
compensatory damages and no punitive damages. The issues of back pay and
front pay were left to the Court. During the trial, the Court heard
additional evidence and arguments on these issues outside the presence of
Title VII remedies apply to ADA cases. See 42 U.S.C. § 12117 (a).
In the event the jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff, the parties
agreed a full back pay award would include $1,801.48 for Cobra insurance
paid for by Price, $200 in job search costs and $21,420.75 in back pay.
The only disputed issue was whether Price's back pay should be cut off by
reason of Interstate's letter of April 29, 1996. If so, Price's back pay
award would be reduced to $13,702.
Interstate relies upon Ford Motor Company v. EEOC, 458 U.S. 219, 102
S.Ct. 3057, 73 L.Ed.2d 721 (1982). In Ford, the Court held an employer
can toll the accrual of back pay liability by unconditionally offering
claimant the job, thereby providing claimant the opportunity to minimize
damages. 458 U.S. at 232, 102 S.Ct. at 3066. The Ford decision is
distinguishable because the offer to Price was conditioned upon returning
to work with no weight lifting restriction. Accordingly, Price is awarded
fullback pay as follows: