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Brenda Umholtz v. Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services

Case Summary: 11-cv-04018-JAR

Three Plaintiffs, Brenda Umholtz, Paul Levy and Tina Bruce, brought claims in the District of Kansas under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1971. Defendant, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, employed Levy and Bruce and contracted with Umholtz for rehabilitation counseling services.

Plaintiff Bruce is blind. She was employed by Defendant beginning in 2001 but was fired in 2009 for alleged inefficiency or incompetence. She appealed this dismissal to the Kansas Civil Service Board, which ordered that she be reinstated as a Human Services Counselor with backpay and benefits and “be provided assistive technology that is consistently available and fully functioning.” Bruce was reinstated but was allegedly relegated to handling administrative duties and forced to use the same outdated technology that she used before her termination, despite the Kansas Civil Service Board’s order. Umholtz and Levy expressed concern over Bruce’s treatment. As a result, they argue, Umholtz’s contract with Defendant was terminated and Levy was fired.

In their complaint, Plaintiffs asked the court for damages and equitable relief for alleged violations and retaliation under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The court partially granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, dismissing all of Plaintiffs’ claims under the ADA and also Levy’s claim under the Rehabilitation Act. But the court allowed Umholtz’s and Bruce’s claims under the Rehabilitation Act to continue. Defendant then successfully moved to sever the trial, and Umholtz’s and Bruce’s claims continued separately.

This video shows the 4-day jury trial on Umholtz’s surviving claims. On August 16, 2013, the Jury returned a verdict in favor of Umholtz, granting damages for lost income and emotional distress of roughly $50,000. The court further ordered Defendant to pay prejudgment interest on the lost income but denied Plaintiff’s request for equitable relief. In parallel proceedings on Bruce’s claims, the jury found in favor of Defendant.

Case Highlights

  • Complaint filed 2/11/2011 (Doc #1)
  • Answer filed 5/11/2011 (Doc #10)
  • Order granting in part and denying part Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment 2/20/2013 (Doc #71)
  • Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Severance of Trial 6/24/2013 (Doc #81)
  • Jury trial held on Ulmholtz’s claims 8/13-8/16/2013 (Doc #149)
  • Judgment in favor of Umholtz 10/28/2013 (Doc #166)

Case-related documents, including those referenced above, are available via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. For more information, visit