Lawsuit claims KU medical school violated Americans With Disabilities Act

An applicant to the Kansas University School of Medicine has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging she was denied admission because of a disability, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Emily McCulley, who has been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair, originally was admitted to the medical school on Sept. 30, 2011, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas.

McCulley, Wichita, was set to begin classes in July. Once admitted, McCulley informed the school that “she could not perform some of the technical standards required of students without reasonable accommodation.”

McCulley met with school officials to discuss some of the tasks she would be required to perform in medical school, such as during clinical rotations. McCulley’s physician sent a letter to school officials stating that McCulley might have difficulty with some of the tasks required, such as conducting home visits without wheelchair accessibility or being able “to use enough physical force for chest compressions.”

In July, Steven Stites, chairman of the department of internal medicine, sent McCulley a letter “concluding that she could not meet the essential requirements of the School of Medicine’s education program with or without reasonable accommodation,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that school officials never discussed with McCulley potential accommodations that might have enabled her to meet school requirements.

The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages. McCulley is represented by the Topeka law firm of Sloan, Eisenbarth, Glassman, McEntire & Jarboe.

No court dates have been scheduled yet in the case.

A spokeswoman for KU Medical Center declined comment.