Diabetic Applicant Wins $100,000 from FBI

Jeffrey Kapche is a Type 1 diabetic. In 2002, he applied for a special agent position with the FBI. Kapche received a conditional offer of employment in 2004, but it was later revoked because the FBI determined that he did not have sufficient control over his diabetes, and that he would be unable to take on certain responsibilities of the position.

Kapche sued under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, claiming his rejection amounted to illegal disability discrimination. In 2009, a jury awarded Kapche $100,000 in damages.

The FBI asked the trial court judge to reject the verdict, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that Kapche was disabled. In particular, the FBI argued that Kapche had not shown that he was substantially limited in a major life activity.

The Court rejected the FBI’s petition. The Court found that “Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes substantially limited the manner in which Kapche performed the major life activities of eating and caring for himself when compared to an average person in the general population. Kapche described his regimen as ‘a constant battle every day, where the minute you don’t do it is when you can have problems or complications.’ In part, his regimen consisted of testing his blood sugar several times a day, closely monitoring the quality and quantity of food he ate, adjusting his food intake and insulin levels before exercising or long days at work, and recalculating his target insulin levels in food intake when ill.

“At trial, through cross examination and the presentation of its own witnesses, the FBI made the same argument that it makes now: that Kapche’s diabetes management regimen is simply a hassle, involves the same kind of monitoring and planning that one would do on a diet. But the jury determined that Kapche’s limitations were more substantial – a reasonable conclusion given the evidence before them.”

Kapche v. Holder, 2009 WL 2903698 (D. D.C. 2009).

This article appears in the December 2009 issue