United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RONALD G. HIBLER
ABC TECHNOLOGIES, INC
TODD J. CAMPBELL, District Judge.
Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 15). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff is a former employee of Defendant who brings this lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), as amended, and the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant is a company which engages in the design, manufacture and assembly of blow molded parts for the automotive industry. Plaintiff contends that he injured his shoulder at work in February of 2012 and, about a week later, was placed on work restrictions by his physician, Dr. Motz. On March 27, 2012, Plaintiff had surgery on his shoulder. At the time of his injury, Plaintiff was a "Set Up" team member. The Set Up employees changed out and set up the necessary molds prior to each day's production run.
Plaintiff does not dispute that, after his surgery, he received restrictions from his doctor and was placed in various light-duty jobs to accommodate those restrictions. For example, in August of 2012, approximately four months after his surgery, Plaintiff was placed in a light-duty position, repairing plastic containers. Plaintiff claims that this new position was easier on his shoulder and that he understood his placement in this position to be permanent. Plaintiff contends that he advised Dr. Motz of his new position and, based on that new position, Dr. Motz released Plaintiff to work with no restrictions.
Plaintiff alleges that three days after he was released by Dr. Motz, Defendant moved Plaintiff from the new position back to "Set-Up." Defendant avers that it returned Plaintiff to his regular position because Plaintiff presented Defendant with a doctor's note fully releasing him from his restrictions.
Plaintiff avers that he was fired in October 19, 2012, allegedly for violation of Defendant's attendance policy; in other words, for absenteeism. Plaintiff argues that the real reason for his firing was discrimination in violation of the ADA and the FMLA. (Plaintiff has represented that he is not pursuing a retaliation claim under either statute.)
Defendant has moved for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiff was not disabled or regarded as disabled during his employment with Defendant; that Plaintiff was reasonably accommodated when he was on light duty restrictions; that when Plaintiff was released from those restrictions, he was placed back into his regular job; that Plaintiff was fired for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason, violation of Defendant's attendance policy; and that Plaintiff was not eligible for FMLA leave.
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009). The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may satisfy this burden by presenting affirmative evidence that negates an element of the non-moving party's claim or by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id.
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk Western Railroad, Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not, however, weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position will be insufficient to survive summary judgment; rather, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers, 344 F.3d at 595.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
The ADA prohibits employment discrimination "against a qualified individual with a disability." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). In order to establish a violation of the ADA, a person must establish that: (1) he has a disability, as defined in the ADA; (2) he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation; and (3) he suffered an adverse employment action because of his disability. Demyanovich Cadon Plating & Coatings, LLC, 747 F.3d 419, 433 (6th Cir. 2014). The ADA bars discrimination "because of" an employee's disability, meaning that it prohibits ...