180 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 1999), 97-8838, Chapman v. AI Transport

Docket Nº:97-8838, 97-9086, 97-9269
Citation:180 F.3d 1244
Party Name:John D. CHAPMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,v. AI TRANSPORT; American International Adjustment Company, Inc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:July 13, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1244

180 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 1999)

John D. CHAPMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

AI TRANSPORT; American International Adjustment Company, Inc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 97-8838, 97-9086, 97-9269

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

July 13, 1999

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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R. Lawrence Ashe, Jr., Nancy E. Rafuse, William B. Hill, Michael Dubus, Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

David N. Schaeffer, Atlanta, GA, James J. Oh, Allison Z. Stein, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees.

Michael J. Sheehan, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees in docket Nos. 97-8838 and 97-9269.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Before HATCHETT and BIRCH, Circuit Judges, [*] and KEITH [**], Senior Circuit Judge.

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BIRCH, Circuit Judge:

In this appeal arising from an employment discrimination lawsuit, John D. Chapman asks that we vacate a jury verdict in favor of the defendants, AIG Claim Services ("AIGCS"), AI Transport, and AIG Aviation, with respect to Chapman's claims filed pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-17. In addition, Chapman asserts that the district court erred both in granting summary judgment prior to trial on his age discrimination claim filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34, and in failing to reconsider its summary judgment decision after hearing the evidence offered at trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the jury's verdict on Chapman's ADA claim, but reverse the district court's summary judgment order on Chapman's ADEA claim and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

BACKGROUND

Chapman began working as a senior claims representative for AI Transport, a division of AIG Aviation, in 1988, and was promoted to claims supervisor shortly thereafter. In 1992, AI Transport initiated a restructuring and reduction of its workforce and, as a result, Chapman's job title changed from claims supervisor to manager of self-insured retention accounts ("SIR Manager"). As SIR Manager, Chapman was responsible, in part, for auditing self-insured retention accounts and processing claims made on these accounts. It is undisputed that the nature of claims operations changed under the leadership of Bill O'Brien, who became vice president in charge of claims operations at AI Transport beginning in 1989, to necessitate more travel than had previously been required.

Chapman suffers from tachycardia, a chronic condition that affects the heart's ability to control its electrical impulses. During his tenure with AI Transport, Chapman's tachycardia did not manifest itself until the spring of 1992, during which Chapman experienced blackouts and a loss of consciousness. Chapman saw Dr. Cole Wolford, an internist, several times from April through July 1992, for treatment of his heart condition. In July 1992, Wolford placed Chapman on a holter monitor in an effort to determine the cause of his irregular heartbeat. AI Transport and Chapman strongly dispute the extent to which Wolford expressly advised Chapman to restrict or eliminate work-related travel due to his tachycardia; it appears, however, that Wolford's internal office notes do not explicitly reflect a determination that Chapman should desist from travelling. In August 1992, Wolford referred Chapman to a cardiologist, Dr. Ted Monitz, who found that, notwithstanding his diagnosis of tachycardia, Chapman did not suffer from any structural heart defects.

In September 1992, Chapman notified O'Brien, Valerie Zaleski, Human Resources Manager, and Bob Spann, Chapman's immediate supervisor, that he was experiencing stress related to business travel. According to the defendants, Chapman neither informed O'Brien, Zaleski, or Spann that this stress might be related to a heart condition, nor did he request that they speak to his physicians. The defendants also contend that O'Brien suggested during that conversation that AI Transport would make all of Chapman's travel arrangements for him, thereby alleviating some of his travel-related stress, but that travel would continue to be a requirement of his job. In November 1992, Chapman received nine accounts to audit, and was advised that he needed to complete as many of these audits as possible by the end of the calendar year. On December 17, 1992, Chapman advised O'Brien, Zaleski, and Spann that he would no longer travel in relation to his job. According to Chapman, O'Brien responded that Chapman could "travel, resign, or be fired." R5-71 at 9. One day later, after Chapman maintained that he could not travel anymore, O'Brien fired him.

During the fall of 1992, Chapman submitted his resume to James Wogsland, the vice president of AIGCS, AI Transport's

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sister company. According to Chapman, his request for transfer to AIGCS was not limited to a particular job. Chapman also contends that his supervisor, Spann, supported his transfer request and specifically told Wogsland that Chapman had experienced difficulty with the extensive travel required under O'Brien's leadership at AI Transport. Wogsland and Ward Turnquist, another AIGCS vice-president, interviewed Chapman for the position of claims manager but offered the position to an AI Transport employee who was younger than Chapman. According to AIGCS, Wogsland and Turnquist believed that Chapman had not interviewed well and were concerned about his alleged "job-skipping" history. Chapman avers that, in addition to the claims manager position for which he was not selected, AIGCS transferred three other younger, less-qualified AI Transport employees to available positions at AIGCS for which Chapman was not considered.

Chapman subsequently filed this action against the defendants and alleged, inter alia, that AI Transport had discriminated against him due to his disabling heart condition by both terminating him and failing to accommodate his disability. Chapman further alleged that AIGCS had discriminated against him on the basis of age by failing to hire him or transfer him to available positions for which he applied and was qualified. In a report and recommendation, the magistrate judge determined that Chapman had established triable issues of fact with respect to his claims of disability discrimination in relation to AI Transport and age discrimination in relation to AIGCS. See R9-95 at 34, 40. The district court adopted in part the magistrate judge's recommendation, but found that Chapman had set forth sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment with respect to all defendants on his disability claims. The district court further found, however, that Chapman had failed to demonstrate that AIGCS's stated reasons for failing to hire or transfer him to available positions was a pretext for age discrimination. Consistent with this determination, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of AIGCS on Chapman's ADEA claim, leaving only his ADA claims to be tried before a jury. See R12-109 at 20-22.

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