Benge v. General Motors Corp., No. C-3-01-228.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtRice
Citation267 F.Supp.2d 794
PartiesChristine BENGE, Plaintiff, v. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Defendant.
Decision Date31 March 2003
Docket NumberNo. C-3-01-228.
267 F.Supp.2d 794
Christine BENGE, Plaintiff,
v.
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Defendant.
No. C-3-01-228.
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division.
March 31, 2003.

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Andrew J. Ruzicho, II, Andrew Jack Ruzicho, Law Offices of Andrew J. Ruzicho, Columbus, OH, for plaintiff.

James M.L. Ferber, Cheryl Renee Hankerson, Kimberly L. Hall, Columbus, OH, for defendant.

DECISION AND ENTRY SUSTAINING IN PART AND OVERRULING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. # 19).

RICE, Chief Judge.


The Plaintiff, an employee of the Defendant, brings this litigation to obtain compensation for the Defendant's alleged failure to accommodate her disability which flowed from a condition and pain she began to experience in 1986.1 The Plaintiff began her employment at Defendant's Moraine, Ohio, Assembly Plant in February, 1985, as an assembler in the trim department.2 The Plaintiffs employment with the Defendant has been governed by a series of collective bargaining agreements into which it has entered with the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Technical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers ("Union").

During the Spring of 1986, the Plaintiff complained to Defendant's medical department that she was suffering extreme pain in her wrists. In June, 1986, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, tennis elbow and trigger finger. As a result of the pain which she was experiencing, the Plaintiff took disability leave during June, July and parts of August, 1986. During that leave, the Plaintiff received workers' compensation and short term disability payments.

In May, 1987, Plaintiff underwent surgery to remove a cyst from her right wrist. For the next eight weeks, the Plaintiff was on disability leave and participated in physical therapy. Plaintiffs personal physician cleared her to return to work after she had completed that therapy. When she returned to work in August, 1987, Plaintiff was examined by a physician in Defendant's medical department, who imposed restrictions prohibiting the use of torque guns or lifting more than 25 pounds. The restrictions were to end 12

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weeks after the Plaintiff returned to work. During the next three years, the Plaintiff continually complained of pain. Throughout that period, her restrictions were increased to include prohibiting the use of torque guns, hand tools, repetitive grasping, wrist vibrations and lifting over 25 pounds.

From June 24, 1991, until May 30, 1993, the Plaintiff was on disability leave as a result of her pain. During that leave, she received short term and then extended disability payments. At the Defendant's insistence, the Plaintiff was required to undergo three independent medical examinations during this disability leave. The third examiner, Dr. Nagy, concluded that the Plaintiff was no longer totally disabled and unable to work. As a result, her disability leave ended, and she was required to return to work.

When she returned to work in June, 1993, the Plaintiff was given a fitness for duty examination by a physician in Defendant's medical department. As a result of that examination, the Plaintiff was released to return to work with no restrictions. In late June, 1993, the Plaintiff complained about pain to the Defendant's medical department. A physician in that department concluded that her complaints of pain were out of proportion to physical findings. As a consequence, she was cleared to return to work and prescribed pain medication. Plaintiff disagreed with the diagnosis of that physician and visited her personal physician. On June 25, 1993, Plaintiffs personal physician placed her on sick leave, where she remained until May, 1995.

After Plaintiff returned to work in May, 1995, Defendant's medical department issued her job restrictions, prohibiting her from using power or hand tools, pushing, pulling, jerking, forceful gripping and twisting with both hands and repetitive lifting. Upon her return to work, Plaintiff was assigned to a visual inspection position which she performed for eight months without complaint. When that position was eliminated, she was assigned to a position which required her to remove tape from trucks, release their brakes and close their doors. Plaintiff complained that this position caused her to suffer pain and she took intermittent sick leave from the end of April, 1996, until May, 1997.3 While on sick leave, Plaintiff received disability benefits and underwent physical therapy.

When the Plaintiff returned to work in May, 1997, she was assigned a position brushing debris from trucks before they were sent through an automatic washer. Plaintiff functioned without complaint in that position for the next 17 months, until the end of December, 1997, when the position was eliminated.

At the end of January, 1999, after the Plaintiff had been assigned to perform a number of jobs which caused her to experience pain, she once again went on sick leave, where she remained until June, 2000, when the Union and the Defendant settled a grievance which had been filed on her behalf, by assigning her to a clerical position in the Apprenticeship office.4 Plaintiff remains employed by the Defendant in that capacity.

In her Complaint (Doc. # 1), the Plaintiff sets forth five claims for relief, to wit: that the Defendant discriminated against

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her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code ("Chapter 4112") by failing to accommodate her disability (First and Second Claims, for Relief); that the Defendant violated the ADA and Chapter 4112 by retaliating against her for having filed a charge of discrimination (Third and Fourth Claims for Relief); and that the Defendant's actions constituted the intentional infliction of emotional distress in violation of the Ohio common law (Fifth Claim for Relief).

This case is now before the Court on the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 19). As a means of analysis, the Court will initially set forth the standards which must be applied to all such motions, following which it will turn to the parties' arguments in support of and in opposition to that filed by the Defendant.

Summary judgment must be entered "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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Of course, the moving party: always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.

Id. at 323,106 S.Ct. 2548. See also Boretti v. Wiscomb, 930 F.2d 1150, 1156 (6th Cir. 1991) (The moving party has the "burden of showing that the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions and affidavits in the record, construed favorably to the nonmoving party, do not raise a genuine issue of material fact for trial.") (quoting Gutierrez v. Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1536 (6th Cir.1987)). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine: issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). Thus, "[o]nce the moving party has met its initial burden, the nonmoving party must present evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact making it necessary to resolve the difference at trial." Talley v. Bravo Pitino Restaurant, Ltd., 61 F.3d 1241, 1245 (6th Cir.1995). Read together, Liberty Lobby and Celotex stand for the proposition that a party may move for summary judgment by demonstrating that the opposing party will not be able to produce sufficient evidence at trial to withstand a directed verdict motion (now known as a motion for judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50). Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1478 (6th Cir.1989).

Once the burden of production has so shifted, the party opposing summary judgment cannot rest on its? pleadings or merely reassert its previous allegations. It is not sufficient to "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). See also Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc. v. Babin, 18 F.3d 337, 341 (6th Cir.1994) ("The plaintiff must present more than a scintilla of evidence in support of his position; the evidence must be such that a jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff."). Rather, Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the [unverified] pleadings" and present some type of evidentiary material in support

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of its position. Celotex Corp., All U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Summary judgment shall be denied "[i]f there are ... `genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.'" Hancock v. Dodson, 958 F.2d 1367, 1374 (6th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Of course, in determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, a court must assume as true the evidence of the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in the favor of that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106...

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  • Kirkland v. McAleenan, Civil Action No. 13-194 (RDM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • December 23, 2019
    ...Aug. 30, 2002); Mikell v. Waldbaum, Inc., No. 02-1501, 2003 WL 21018844, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. May 5, 2003); Benge v. Gen. Motors Corp., 267 F. Supp. 2d 794, 802 (S.D. OhioPage 24 2003); Kriegsmann v. FWC Residential Co., No. 05-2534, 2007 WL 9747428, at *7 (D. Md. Sept. 4, 2007). In the Departme......
  • Nuzum v. Ozark Automotive Distributors, Inc., 4:03-CV-40148.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • June 10, 2004
    ...was not substantially limited in performing manual tasks), as modified, 292 F.3d 1045 (9th Cir.2002); Benge v. Gen. Motors, Inc., 267 F.Supp.2d 794, 801-02 (S.D.Ohio 2003) (finding that plaintiff, who needed help performing some household chores but could perform others without assistance, ......
  • Mccormick v. Miami Univ., Case No. 1:10-cv-345
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • May 5, 2011
    ...still governs the statute of limitations applicable to disability claims brought under § 4112.99. See Benge v. General Motors Corp., 267 F. Supp. 2d 794, 799 (S.D. Ohio 2003). 12. Deck was decided during the short window of time when claims under Ohio Revised Code § 4112.99 were subject to ......
  • Hensley v. Petermann Ltd., Case No. 1:17-cv-190
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • November 5, 2018
    ...without proof of something more." Godfredson v. Hess & Clark, Inc., 173 F.3d 365, 376 (6th Cir. 1999);4 Benge v. General Motors Corp., 267 F. Supp. 2d 794, 805 (S.D. Ohio 2003). In the case at bar, Plaintiff failed to unearth a single fact that would rise to the level of "extreme and outrag......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Kirkland v. McAleenan, Civil Action No. 13-194 (RDM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • December 23, 2019
    ...Aug. 30, 2002); Mikell v. Waldbaum, Inc., No. 02-1501, 2003 WL 21018844, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. May 5, 2003); Benge v. Gen. Motors Corp., 267 F. Supp. 2d 794, 802 (S.D. OhioPage 24 2003); Kriegsmann v. FWC Residential Co., No. 05-2534, 2007 WL 9747428, at *7 (D. Md. Sept. 4, 2007). In the Departme......
  • Nuzum v. Ozark Automotive Distributors, Inc., 4:03-CV-40148.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • June 10, 2004
    ...was not substantially limited in performing manual tasks), as modified, 292 F.3d 1045 (9th Cir.2002); Benge v. Gen. Motors, Inc., 267 F.Supp.2d 794, 801-02 (S.D.Ohio 2003) (finding that plaintiff, who needed help performing some household chores but could perform others without assistance, ......
  • Mccormick v. Miami Univ., Case No. 1:10-cv-345
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • May 5, 2011
    ...still governs the statute of limitations applicable to disability claims brought under § 4112.99. See Benge v. General Motors Corp., 267 F. Supp. 2d 794, 799 (S.D. Ohio 2003). 12. Deck was decided during the short window of time when claims under Ohio Revised Code § 4112.99 were subject to ......
  • Hensley v. Petermann Ltd., Case No. 1:17-cv-190
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • November 5, 2018
    ...without proof of something more." Godfredson v. Hess & Clark, Inc., 173 F.3d 365, 376 (6th Cir. 1999);4 Benge v. General Motors Corp., 267 F. Supp. 2d 794, 805 (S.D. Ohio 2003). In the case at bar, Plaintiff failed to unearth a single fact that would rise to the level of "extreme and outrag......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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