Brettler v. Purdue University

Decision Date10 January 2006
Docket NumberNo. 4:05-CV-6-PRC.,4:05-CV-6-PRC.
Citation408 F.Supp.2d 640
PartiesDavid BRETTLER, Plaintiff, v. PURDUE UNIVERSITY, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana

David Brettler, Tucson, AZ, Pro Se.

Deborah Berry Trice, Stuart & Branigin LLP — Laf/IN, Trenten D. Klingerman, Stuart & Branigin LLP — Laf/IN, Lafayette, LA, for Purdue University, Defendant.


CHERRY, United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 12], filed by Purdue University1 on June 22, 2005, and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 17], filed by David Brettler on August 10, 2005. For the following reasons, the Court grants Purdue University's Motion for Summary Judgment and denies Brettler's Motion for Summary Judgment.


On January 20, 2005, Brettler filed an Employment Discrimination Complaint alleging that Purdue University violated his "right to reasonable accommodation," pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and pursuant to Titles I and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ("ADA"). Within his Complaint, Brettler demands compensatory damages for "opportunity costs" and punitive damages.

On February 18, 2005, Purdue University filed its Answer.

On June 22, 2005, Purdue University filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, as well as a Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of Material Facts. Also on June 22, 2005, Purdue University filed its "Notice in Compliance with Lewis v. Faulkner for Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment."

On July 26, 2005, Brettler filed his Response to Motion for Summary Judgment. On August 4, 2005, Purdue University filed its Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

On August 9, 2005, Brettler filed his Motion for Summary Judgment. On August 26, 2005, Purdue University filed its Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. Brettler did not file a Reply.

The parties consented to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Thus, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Rule 56(c) further requires the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, 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). "[S]ummary judgment is appropriate — in fact, is mandated — where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing a 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. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The moving party may discharge its "initial responsibility" by simply "`showing' — that is, pointing out to the district court — that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548. When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party is not required to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id. at 323, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Green v. Whiteco Indus., Inc., 17 F.3d 199, 201 n. 3 (7th Cir.1994); Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir.1990). However, the moving party, if it chooses, may support its motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other materials and thereby shift to the nonmoving party the burden of showing that an issue of material fact exists. Kaszuk v. Bakery & Confectionery Union & Indus. Int'l Pension Fund, 791 F.2d 548, 558 (7th Cir.1986); Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616, 617 (7th Cir.1982).

Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the nonmoving party cannot resist the motion and withstand summary judgment by merely resting on its pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir.1994). Rule 56(e) establishes that "the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Thus, to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party must do more than raise some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts; the nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-America, Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir.1995); Doe v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir.1994). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Doe, 42 F.3d at 443. Specifically in regards to cross motions for summary judgment, "our review of the record requires that we construe all inferences in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made." Allen v. City of Chicago, 351 F.3d 306, 311 (7th Cir.2003).


The following are the facts viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.2 The Trustees of Purdue University is a corporate body created by the Indiana legislature through Indiana Code § 20-12-37-1 et seq. The Trustees of Purdue University operate Purdue University.

On October 9, 2003, Brettler was accepted into the graduate program of the Department of Agricultural Economics ("Department") in Purdue University's School of Agriculture. Included in Brettler's Admission Letter was an offer to Brettler for a one-quarter time graduate research assistantship in the Department, which was contingent on his maintaining "satisfactory academic performance" and "acceptable progress and work reviews." Def. Br., Exh. 1-A. Graduate assistants receive modest remuneration along with generous remission of tuition. On October 16, 2003, Brettler was sent a letter of admission from Purdue University's Graduate School, which included a "Personal Information Sheet." Each Personal Information Sheet contains the following clause:

Special Services: Purdue University is committed to meeting its obligations pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. If you need auxiliary aids and services because of physical, mental and/or learning disabilities, please contact, as soon as possible, the Coordinator of Adaptive Services, Office of the Dean of Students, Schleman Hall, 765-494-1247 (Voice/TDD).

Def. Br., Exh. 2-B.

Brettler began his academic studies at Purdue University in the spring term of the 2003-2004 academic year. All new graduate assistants in the Department participate in orientation at the beginning of the semester, during which they are advised of the Department's policies and procedures, including those covering graduate assistantships.

Graduate assistantships are dependent upon successful academic performance as a graduate student, as well as satisfactory periodic reviews of the graduate assistant's work. Graduate assistants are expected to enroll in twelve credit hours of work and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. If the graduate assistant's grade point average falls below 3.0, the student is automatically put on probation and "performance below this level will result in automatic review and possible loss of assistantship." Def. Br., Exh. 1, ¶ 9, Exh. 1-B. Also, "[i]f the Department's periodic review indicates that the assistantship work of the student is unsatisfactory," the assistantship may be "terminated." Def. Br., Exh. 1, ¶ 10, Exh. 1-B. Finally, it is the standard policy for the Department to terminate a graduate assistantship if the student fails to make satisfactory academic progress, as indicated by a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

At the conclusion of the spring semester, Brettler's grade point average was 2.33, and he was enrolled in a total of twelve credit hours, consisting of four three-credit-hour classes. He had received one grade of "D," two grades of "B," and one "Incomplete." The "Incomplete" was received for failing to turn in a required paper. As of the date of Purdue University's Motion for Summary Judgment, Brettler had not completed the...

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