Williams v. AT & T Mobility Servs., LLC

Decision Date16 May 2016
Docket NumberDocket No: 2:15-cv-02150-STA-dkv
Citation186 F.Supp.3d 816
Parties Kirsten Williams, Plaintiff, v. AT & T Mobility Services, LLC, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Tennessee

Matthew Charles Gulotta, The Gulotta Firm, Steven George Wilson, The Steve Wilson Firm, Memphis, TN, for Plaintiff.

Charles W. Hill, Glankler Brown, PLLC, Memphis, TN, for Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

S. THOMAS ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff Kirsten Williams filed this action against her former employer, AT & T Mobility Services, LLC ("AT & T"), alleging that AT & T violated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"). (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has moved for partial summary judgment on the sole issue of whether, at the time of the relevant events, she was disabled as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1).1 (ECF No. 40.) AT & T has filed a response to the motion (ECF No. 46), and Plaintiff has filed a reply to the response. (ECF No. 52.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED .

Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."2 When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must review all the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant.3 In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and it "may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence."4

When the motion is supported by documentary proof such as depositions and affidavits, the nonmoving party may not rest on his pleadings but, rather, must present some "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."5 These facts must be more than a scintilla of evidence and must meet the standard of whether a reasonable juror could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the nonmoving party is entitled to a verdict.6 The Court should ask "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law."7 The Court must enter summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial."8

As an initial matter, the Court notes that both parties have expended considerable effort arguing that the opposing party has not sufficiently complied with Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules of this Court.9 AT & T contends that, instead of submitting a "concise statement of facts, the Plaintiff has filed a multi-paragraph, multi-sentence, unstructured broad based jumble of references to the Plaintiff's deposition testimony and to her deposition exhibits."10 AT & T further contends that "[m]any of the paragraphs contain lengthy recitations that are neither material to nor relevant to the legal conclusion for which summary judgment is sought" and that "[s]ome of the recitations are incorrect."11 AT & T objects to Plaintiff's statement of facts "in their entirety for non-conformity with the requirements of Local Rule 56.1(a)."12

Local Rule 56.1(a) requires that any motion for summary judgment be "accompanied by a separate, concise statement of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue for trial."13 As noted by Plaintiff, the local rules do not define "concise statement," and she argues that her facts are "concise" within the meaning of the local rules.14

In denying a motion to strike the defendant's statement of undisputed material facts, the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee determined that the defendant did not violate a local rule on conciseness that was worded similarly to the local rule at issue in this case because the dispute was "factually rich" and involved incidents occurring over a period of time.15 The Court agreed with the defendant that all of the facts contained within the statement were " ‘relevant and material’ either directly or as ‘both background and [ ] foundation for the incidents which form the basis of Plaintiff's causes of action’ and that [the defendant] was not trying to burden the plaintiff but merely generate a ‘complete record.’ "16

Likewise, this case is fact-intensive. Plaintiff's statement of facts is based on over 8,000 pages of discovery and consists of only ten pages with twenty-seven numbered paragraphs that address the facts underlying this lawsuit.17 Although the paragraphs have multiple sentences, each sentence is related to the subject of the paragraph and is, therefore, neither "unstructured" nor a "broad based jumble of references" to the deposition testimony and exhibits.

While AT & T is correct that Plaintiff's "Exhibit S"18 is actually an assessment by Allison Bigelow, a psychologist, rather than Dr. Akin, a psychiatrist, this one misnomer does not affect the content of the psychological assessment.19 Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff's statement of undisputed facts meets the criteria set forth in Local Rule 56.1(a).20

However, Plaintiff's argument that AT & T is not in compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the local rules of this Court is meritorious. AT & T filed a memorandum in response to Plaintiff's motion21 but did not file a separate response to Plaintiff's statement of facts with citations to the record, nor did AT & T submit its own statement of additional facts.

As noted above, the local rules of this Court require motions for summary judgment to "be accompanied by a separate, concise statement of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue for trial."22 Plaintiff complied with the local rules by submitting such a statement of facts.23 Any party opposing summary judgment must respond to each fact stated by the movant by agreeing that it is undisputed, agreeing that it is undisputed for purposes of ruling on the summary judgment motion only, or by demonstrating that the fact is disputed, with specific citations to the record.24 "Failure to respond to a moving party's statement of material facts ... shall indicate that the asserted facts are not disputed for purposes of summary judgment."25 Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure also provides that if a party "fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact ..., the court may consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion."26

Because AT & T failed to properly respond to Plaintiff's statement of facts, those facts will be accepted as true for the purpose of deciding this motion.27 The Court must now consider whether the undisputed facts show that Plaintiff was disabled as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1). The Court concludes that they do.

Plaintiff has presented the following undisputed facts in support of her motion for partial summary judgment.28

Plaintiff was a Customer Service Representative with AT & T from 2006 to July 3, 2014, when she was terminated. Her job was to answer inbound calls and assist with technical support and billing at AT & T's call-center.

Plaintiff has been treated for depression by Dr. Atkin since 2007 until the present.29 During periods of depression and anxiety, those impairments negatively affected her mood and ability to concentrate, think, learn, and communicate. As a result of her depression and prescribed medications, she also suffered from fatigue and difficulty sleeping, and she grew tearful. Her depression and anxiety affected her appetite, caused her to avoid social settings, avoid housework and exercise, neglect personal grooming, prevented her from cooking because she burned herself and the food, and limited her ability to care for her young son.

Plaintiff made job accommodation requests in late 2012 and May 2013 because of her mental health problems. She was granted Short Term Disability benefits ("STD") from September 6, 2013, until November 18, 2013, and again from December 3, 2013, to January 20, 2014. Plaintiff applied for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") on December 12 and 20, 2013, January 10 and 13, 2014, April 4 and 29, 2014, and May 15 and 30, 2014, based on depression and the need for treatment.

On April 9, 2014, Plaintiff notified AT & T's Integrated Disability Service Center ("IDSC") that she left work mid-shift because of her depression and anxiety. She also informed IDSC that she had arranged a mental health appointment but it would not occur for two weeks because she was a new patient. On April 10, IDSC's internal notes corroborate Plaintiff's diagnosis relating to "mental health" and "date loss: 04/09/2014." On April 23, medical evaluation forms were returned to IDSC. This paperwork showed that Plaintiff had been diagnosed with depressive disorder and anxiety. Plaintiff's medical provider was FNP Laura Thompson, and Dr. Candace Thompson provided psychiatric treatment. Plaintiff's conditions affected her concentrating, learning, thinking, and communicating.

On April 28, 2014, IDSC's internal notes record Plaintiff's "difficulty sleeping" ... "abnormal interrupted thoughts ... caused by depression and anxiety" ... "needs through 8/15/14" ... "1) 10 min break every 2 hrs, 2) flex start time [and 3) ] modified break time for anxiety attacks."

On May 1, 2014, Plaintiff began treatment at Psycamore, LLC. On May 5, Plaintiff called IDSC, stating that "she is now attending [Partial hospital program]." On May 7, IDSC received an Initial Physician Statement ("IPS") from Psycamore. This documentation recorded Plaintiff's severe depression, its effects on her sleeping, difficulty arriving on time, cognitive impairment, and her need for...

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