Casanova v. Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, CIVIL NO. 13-1945 (PG)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
Citation205 F.Supp.3d 220
Docket NumberCIVIL NO. 13-1945 (PG)
Parties Lillian Velez CASANOVA, Plaintiff, v. WYNDHAM GRAND RIO MAR BEACH RESORT AND SPA, Defendant.
Decision Date09 September 2016

205 F.Supp.3d 220

Lillian Velez CASANOVA, Plaintiff,

CIVIL NO. 13-1945 (PG)

United States District Court, D. Puerto Rico.

Signed September 9, 2016

205 F.Supp.3d 223

Anibal Escanellas-Rivera, Escanellas & Juan, San Juan, PR, for Plaintiff.

Carl E. Schuster, Andres C. Gorbea-Del Valle, Schuster Aguilo, LLP, San Juan, PR, for Defendant.



Plaintiff Lillian Velez Casanova ("Plaintiff" or "Velez"), filed this action pursuant to the American with Disabilities Act of 1991 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., against her employer Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa ("Defendant" or "the Hotel"), alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of her disability, age, requests for reasonable accommodation, and opposition to the Hotel's unlawful employment practices. See Docket No. 1. Plaintiff also invoked supplemental jurisdiction over her state law claims under Law No. 100 of June 30, 1959 ("Law No. 100"), P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 29, § 146 et seq. ; Law No. 45 of April 18, 1935 ("Law No. 45"), P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 11, § 7 et seq. ; Law No. 44 of June 2, 1985 ("Law No. 44"), P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 1, § 501 et seq., and Law No. 115 of December 20, 1991 ("Law No. 115"), P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 29, § 194 et seq.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 13), Plaintiff's Opposition (Docket No. 32), and Defendant's Reply (Docket No. 34). After a close examination of all of the evidence on record and a careful review of the applicable statutory and case law, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment for the reasons explained below.


A motion for summary judgment is governed by

205 F.Supp.3d 224

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which entitles a party to judgment if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "When the party who bears the burden of proof at trial is faced with a properly constituted summary judgment motion, defeating the motion depends on her ability to show that such a dispute exists." Geshke v. Crocs, Inc. , 740 F.3d 74, 77 (1st Cir.2014) (citing Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano – Isern , 605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir.2010) ).

If the non-movant generates uncertainty as to the true state of any material fact, the movant's efforts should be deemed unavailing. See Suarez v. Pueblo Int'l , 229 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir.2000). Nonetheless, the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not affect an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247–48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Summary judgment may be appropriate if the nonmoving party rests merely upon conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation." Medina–Muñoz v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. , 896 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir.1990).

At the summary judgment juncture, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant, indulging that party with all possible inferences to be derived from the facts. See Rochester Ford Sales, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co. , 287 F.3d 32, 38 (1st Cir.2002). The court reviews the record "as a whole," and "may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc. , 530 U.S. 133, 135, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000). This is so because credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge. Id.


Before setting forth the facts found by this Court to be undisputed and relevant to the matter at hand, we address several compliance issues presented to the Court when reviewing Plaintiff's Opposition (Docket No. 32).

Local Rule 56(c) states that a non-movant's opposing statement of material facts "shall admit, deny or qualify the facts supporting the motion for summary judgment," and in so doing, shall support each denial or qualification by particularized record citations. L.Cv.R. 56(c) (D.P.R.2009). Moreover, the nonmoving party "may not include numerous additional facts within its opposition to the moving party's statements of uncontested facts." Malave – Torres v. Cusido , 919 F.Supp.2d 198, 207 (D.P.R.2013) (internal citations omitted).

After finding that Plaintiff's initial opposition to the Defendant's motion for summary judgment failed to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Local Rule 56, on May 10, 2016, this Court granted Velez a term of 15 days to refile her opposition papers. See Docket No. 30. Nonetheless, in the amended opposing statement of uncontested facts (Docket No. 32–1) Plaintiff again flaunted her complete disregard of the summary judgment standards. First, her denials and qualifications of Defendant's fact statements are either irrelevant to the matter at hand or consist of conclusory assertions and improbable inferences. See Tropigas de Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London , 637 F.3d 53, 56–57 (1st Cir.2011) ("Like Rule 56 itself, the local rule makes clear that its focus is on facts, not speculation or argumentation. Moreover, these facts must be material ."). Also, many of Plaintiff's opposing statements

205 F.Supp.3d 225

are plagued with her subjective interpretation of the facts.

Furthermore, most of Velez' responses to Defendant's factual averments do not comply with our anti-ferret rule. The First Circuit Court of Appeals has held "with a regularity bordering on the monotonous that parties ignore the strictures of an "anti-ferret" rule at their peril." Puerto Rico American Ins. Co. v. Rivera–Vázquez , 603 F.3d 125, 131 (1st Cir.2010) ; see also Advanced Flexible Circuits, Inc. v. GE Sensing & Inspection Techs. GmbH , 781 F.3d 510, 521 (1st Cir.2015) (noting that failure to comply with the standards of Local Rule 56 by the nonmovant allows the district court to accept the moving party's facts as stated). Therefore, unless otherwise noted, the Court gleaned the material facts from Defendant's statement of uncontested facts ("SUF")(Docket No. 13–1).

In accordance with the foregoing, the Court found the following material facts were undisputed:

The Parties

1. Plaintiff was born on June 29, 1959, and is currently 57 years old. SUF at ¶ 65.

2. Defendant is a company engaged in doing business in Puerto Rico with over fifty (50) employees. Docket No. 1 at ¶ 14.

3. Plaintiff began working at the Hotel on November of 1996. Since then, Plaintiff has occupied the position of PBX Operator. Her responsibilities include answering the Hotel's incoming internal and external phone calls and following-up on the guests' requests. SUF at ¶¶ 2-4.

4. There are approximately nine (9) or ten (10) PBX Operators at the Hotel, both younger and older than Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 66. During the day shift, there are usually two to three PBX Operators working at the same time. Id. at ¶ 6.

Relevant Employment Policies

5. The Hotel maintains an express anti-discrimination policy prohibiting any type of discrimination, including age and disability discrimination and/or harassment, as well as retaliation in the workplace. There is also an internal grievance procedure for employees to bring forth claims of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation. Id. at ¶ 7; Docket No. 13–5 ("Exhibit C"), at pp. 5-8.

6. The Hotel's ADA-compliance policy specifically prohibits discrimination against qualified employees or job applicants on account of physical or mental disabilities, in addition to establishing the employer's obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals unless the requested accommodation would cause undue hardship. Docket No. 13–5 at p. 7.

7. The Hotel also maintains a progressive discipline policy, which calls for corrective actions—such as verbal counseling and written disciplinary warnings—before more serious forms of discipline become necessary. A first disciplinary warning generally does not result in termination of employment. SUF at ¶¶ 9 and 12; Docket No. 13–5 at p. 12.

8. On the other hand, under the Hotel's attendance policy, employees who cannot arrive at work on the scheduled date and time must call the supervisor, department manager or the manager on duty to notify the absence at least two hours in advance. Absences and tardiness are considered unacceptable deviations from the work schedule. The policy expressly warns that three instances of tardiness and/or absenteeism within a 30-day period may result in disciplinary
205 F.Supp.3d 226
action. Id. at ¶ 8; Docket No. 13–5 at p. 9.

9. Hotel employees receive sick leave, vacation pay, and other customary fringe benefits. Pursuant to the Hotel's sick leave policy, employees are entitled to time off from work with pay in case of genuine sickness, injury or medical

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Lozada v. DeJoy, CIVIL 20-1674 (DRD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • March 28, 2022
    ...sit continuously for more than one to two hours does not constitute a handicap.” Casanova v. Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, 205 F.Supp.3d 220, 232 (D.P.R. 2016). For instance, the First Circuit has found that although “walking is considered a major life activity, ” delivering mai......
  • T.H. Glennon Co. v. Monday (In re Monday), 21-30171-EDK
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. First Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Massachusetts
    • March 9, 2023
    ...relative to the § 523(a)(2)(A) claim, and the claim is thus deemed waived. See Casanova v. Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, 205 F.Supp.3d 220, 237 (D.P.R. 2016) ("'[I]ssues adverted to in a perfunctory manner, unaccompanied by some effort at developed argumentation, are deemed waiv......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT