According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, a medical expert is not always required to establish a plaintiff’s disability for purposes of a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In Tesone v. Empire Marketing Strategies, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s suit because she did not have a medical expert report to establish that she had a disability for purposes of the litigation. The Tenth Circuit, however, noted that nothing in the law or regulation requires medical testimony to establish disability, nor is there a general rule to that effect. Expert evidence would be required where a condition is unfamiliar to a lay jury and an expert diagnosis is needed. In contrast, when the plaintiff alleges a disability that “a lay jury can fathom without expert guidance,” no medical testimony is required, and the plaintiff can testify as to her own limitations.