United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
DUSTIN R. RUDDELL, Plaintiff,
TRIPLE CANOPY, INC., Defendant.
M. Brinkema United States District Judge.
Dustin R. Ruddell ("plaintiff or "Ruddell")
has filed this civil action under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et
seq., against defendant Triple Canopy, Inc.
("defendant" or "Triple Canopy"), a
defense contractor that provides security services to various
government agencies, including the Department of State (DOS),
for employment discrimination and failure to reasonably
accommodate plaintiffs disability. First Am. Compl. (Compl.),
[Dkt. 5] ¶ 3; Written Stip. of Uncontested Facts
(Stip.), [Dkt. 60] ¶ 4. Although the complaint included
a claim under the "Louisiana Employment Discrimination
Act, " Compl. ¶ 3, plaintiff has abandoned that
has been completed and the parties have filed and argued
their cross-motions for summary judgment, which are the
subject of this memorandum opinion. For the reasons that
follow, defendant's motion will be granted and plaintiffs
motion will be denied.
majority of facts in this record are not disputed. Before
joining Triple Canopy, plaintiff served two tours of duty in
the Navy. Stip. ¶ 3. During that period, Lt. Commander
Jessica Plichta Wilson diagnosed plaintiff with Attention
Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Ruddell Dep., [Dkt.
70-7] at 19:9-21. To manage that disorder, Ruddell was
prescribed Adderall XR. Ruddell Dep., [Dkt. 79-1] at 13-30.
Adderall XR is an amphetamine, meaning it is a central
nervous system stimulant. Ruddell Dep., [Dkt. 70-7] at
140:5-8; "Amphetamine, " Dorland's
Illustrated Medical Dictionary (26 ed., John P. Friel
ed., 1981). Without Adderall, Ruddell becomes "moody,
" experiences "depression, " and his mind is
"all over the place." Ruddell Dep., [Dkt. 74-1] at
97:21. From November 30, 2012, until June 22, 2015, Ruddell
was under the care of Diane Davis, a nurse practitioner.
Stip. ¶ 18. During those years, Nurse Davis reauthorized
Ruddell's Adderall prescription several times. Ruddell
Dep., [Dkt. 79-1] at 13-30.
Canopy is a prime contractor on the Worldwide Protective
Services (WPS) Contract for DOS. Stip. ¶¶ 1, 4. One
portion of the WPS Contract is Task Order 5 (TO-5), under
which Triple Canopy provides security services in Baghdad,
Iraq. Stip. ¶¶ 1, 4. Plaintiff was deployed on this
contract in April 2011 as an explosive detection dog (EDD)
handler. Stip. ¶¶ 6-7. "As an EDD Handler on
TO-5, many of Plaintiff s missions were on
'ambassador's detail, ' providing mobile
security. As part of this detail, Plaintiff served on an
advance team and (using a trained bomb-sniffing dog) cleared
the area of explosives if a diplomat or an ambassador had a
meeting to ensure the safety of the dignitary." Stip.
¶ 8. While deployed, Ruddell had to carry a firearm at
all times. Stip. ¶ 10. The job also "required him
to: (1) provide emergency response in .. . life threatening
situations; (2) summon professional assistance and render
first responder first aid ...; (3) explosive ordnance
detection; (4) prevent the unauthorized introduction of
explosive devices or matter; and (5) protect life and
property." Stip. ¶ 11. Defendant concedes that
"Ruddell's performance was 'steadily
consistently good."' Def Opp. to PI. Mot. for S.J.
(Def. Opp.), [Dkt. 75] at 3.
Contract contains two primary provisions on contractor use of
prescription medication. [Dkt. 70-11] at 3. Section 7.17
Contractor personnel who is [sic] taking prescription
medication, except for the short-term antibiotics,
anti-malarial prophylaxis, or oral contraceptives, which are
not already a matter of record with the Contractor, shall
notify his or her supervisor and submit a medical certificate
or other administratively acceptable documentation of the
prescription and its effect(s) to the Regional Security
Officer and DS/OPO/HTP.
The Regional Security Officer with the assistance of
DS/OPO/HTP shall determine whether such Contractor personnel
shall be allowed to continue to carry a firearm while taking
the medication. Pending written approval, Contractor
personnel shall not perform [personal security] duties.
70-11] at 3. In Section 8.06(2), the contract provides:
Typically, prescription medication will be approved for use
under the treatment of a qualified attending Physician in
accordance with approved dosages and when the medication does
not cause drowsiness or otherwise impair performance and are
[sic] part of the employee's official medical record.
70-11] at 6.
Contract also contains two relevant provisions described as
"General Necessary Conditions, " which provide more
information about the terms and conditions of defendant's
responsibilities. The first is Section C.4.1.1, which reads:
The Contractor shall ensure that all work performed under
this contract is accomplished in accordance with the
applicable standards, standard operating procedures, general
orders, and specific orders issued by [DOS] unless otherwise
directed by the [Contracting Officer], [Contracting Officer
Representative/General Technical Manager], [Regional Security
Officer], [Agent in Charge], or the Program Office. Any
changes in standards, standard operating procedures, or
General Orders for any particular PRS or guard detail will be
identified in the applicable Task Order.
70-11] at 2. Section C.4.1.2 reads in relevant part:
The Contractor, including all Contractor personnel
accomplishing work under this contract, shall accomplish all
work under this contract in compliance with the direction
provided by the Department of State [Contracting Officer],
[Contracting Officer Representative/General Technical
Manager], [Regional Security Officer], Agent in Charge (AIC)
or the Program Office.
[Diet 70-11 ] at 2. The WPS Contract itself is silent about
what happens if a contractor violates either of these two
sections, but defendant's corporate representative
Jeffrey Johnson testified in his deposition that failure to
adhere to requirements in letters from the Contracting
Officer Representative (COR) would lead the government to
"terminate the contracts and . .. put it [sic] up for
rebid." [Dkt. 70-12] at 26:17-18. There is no evidence
in the record contradicting that statement.
2013, DOS and Triple Canopy began to correspond about the
medication provisions of the WPS Contract. The first letter,
which came from DOS on February 15, 2013, and was addressed
not only to defendant but to "All Worldwide Protective
Services (WPS) Contractors providing support in Iraq, "
discussed contractors' obligation to conduct drug testing
under the WPS Contract. [Dkt. 70-13.] DOS specifically
observed that "[i]t is the responsibility of each WPS
Contractor to remain compliant with Section 8.05 (Drug
Screening) of the WPS base contract by ensuring 100% of
personnel serving on the task order are screened within every
6 month time period." [Dkt. 70-13] at 1. DOS then
provided a list of actions that each contractor should take
to facilitate that process, including providing information
to employees, sending a supervisor to accompany employees
being tested, reporting "non-negative" test
results, and removing "non-negative" employees from
billable status and "[U.S. government]-provided
housing" while follow-up takes place. [Dkt. 70-13] at
replied on February 22, 2013, asking for clarification on
several issues related to the prescription medication policy,
among diem whether "it [was] the intention of DOS that
anyone prescribed prescription drugs while on task order by
[Comprehensive Health Services (CHS)] shall be removed from
the project and returned to home of
record[.]" [Dkt. 70-14] at 2. Triple Canopy then
requested that DOS "publish a list of medications that
would prohibit a Triple Canopy employee from performing on
this contract while using one or more of those proscribed
medications, along with a statement regarding why each
medication . . . serves as a disqualifying factor based upon
the specific job requirements[.]" [Dkt. 70-14] at 2. In
its February 22 letter, Triple Canopy also informed DOS that
it had "significant concerns that employees who are
negatively impacted by the review process may invoke the
legal protections of the ADA." [Dkt. 70-14] at 3.
reply sent March 8, 2013, DOS declined to provide the
requested list of medications, stating that "[DOS] is
also bound by the terms of the Americans with Disabilities
Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment
Rights Act, and we feel that existing department guidelines
allow us to comply with these regulations." [Dkt. 70-17]
at 4. After receiving that letter, defendant
sent an email dated April 9, 2013, to all employees working
on the DOS contract advising that "DOS has expanded the
testing to the following list of drugs, " and providing
an itemized list of medications including
"amphetamine." [Dkt. 70-19.]
6, 2013, DOS followed up with another letter. This time, DOS
provided a list of medications that it considers
"inconsistent with working in a high threat
environment." [Dkt. 70-18 at 1.] That list included
"amphetamine and derivatives, " and DOS directed
contractors to ensure that "no one is operating in a
billable capacity on the task order while taking ... any of
the above substances." [Dkt. 70-18] at 1. The June 6
letter also provided different instructions with respect to
psychotropic and psychotherapeutic medications generally,
concluding that they "may be inconsistent with work in a
high threat environment, " directing disclosure to DOS
for further evaluation, and explaining that "[i]f an
individual is taking medications containing the substances
listed above, the Contractor shall remove that individual
from duty either temporarily until the condition requiring
the use of the medication is resolved, or permanently."
[Dkt. 70-18] at 2 (emphasis added).
2, 2014, almost exactly one year after receiving the itemized
list from DOS, Triple Canopy sent a letter to all its WPS
Contract employees identifying "prohibited
medications" including "amphetamine and
derivatives, " specifically listing Adderall ...