Johnson v. City of Mason, No. C-1-98-756.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Citation101 F.Supp.2d 566
Docket NumberNo. C-1-98-756.
PartiesDoyle L. JOHNSON, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF MASON, Defendant.
Decision Date04 April 2000
101 F.Supp.2d 566
Doyle L. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
CITY OF MASON, Defendant.
No. C-1-98-756.
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division.
April 4, 2000.

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B Randall Roach, Martin McCarty Richman Wright & Roach, Fairborn, OH, for Doyle L Johnson, plaintiff.

Gary Edward Becker, Dinsmore & Shohl-1, Cincinnati, OH, for City of Mason, defendant.


SPIEGEL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 7); Plaintiff's Response (doc. 13) and Defendant's Reply (doc. 19); as well Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the Affidavit of Lisa Catlett (doc. 17) and Defendant's Response (doc. 22), to which Plaintiff did not Reply. In addition, the Court will also consider in our deliberations Defendant's Addendum/Supplement to its Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 20), Plaintiff's Errata (doc. 21), and Plaintiff's Supplemental Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 26).


On October 8, 1998, Plaintiff Doyle L. Johnson filed a six count Complaint against Defendant City of Mason alleging civil rights violations under the American with Disability Act, Title 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and the Ohio Civil Rights Act, Ohio Rev.Code § 4112.02, et seq., as well as for violations of state law and public policy (doc. 1). The following facts are, unless otherwise stated, undisputed and were taken from the Complaint (doc. 1), as well as the briefs that were submitted by the Parties (docs. 7, 13 & 19).

Plaintiff began his employment with Defendant's Water Treatment Plant in April of 1995 (doc. 13). At the time Plaintiff was hired by Defendant for the position of Water Treatment Plant Operator, he had no known physical impairments and was in generally good health (Id.). In addition, the first eighteen months of Plaintiff's employment with Defendant were unremarkable and included satisfactory performance evaluations and recommendations by his supervisors for a possible promotion (Id.).1 Plaintiff alleges that, "the positive work environment which [he] enjoyed during his eighteen months of employment vanished after he sustained an injury from which he has not yet fully recovered" (Id.).

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On October 16, 1996, Plaintiff fell while working on the job from an elevated platform that resulted in injuries to his right ankle, knee and foot, and left him allegedly "physically compromised and impaired" (doc. 13). Plaintiff contends that, this "impairment" directly and adversely affected all of Plaintiff's major life activities, but in particular his ability to walk, stand, ambulate, lift, and work (Id.). Furthermore, Plaintiff submits that, during the time of his injury and after he returned from medical leave, Plaintiff required a cane or crutch to ambulate and required physical or mechanical assistance for nearly any activities, including shopping and driving (Id.). Plaintiff's workman's compensation claim was approved on December 12, 1996, by the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation and he was granted a four month leave of absence by Defendant due to his physical injuries (doc. 1).

In February of 1997, Plaintiff returned to his position with Defendant with medical restrictions limiting or proscribing his work activities, which included: "standing, walking, stooping, bending, lifting, and that [Plaintiff] be assigned a sit down job only" (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that, after his return to work, he found himself unexplainably in disfavor among his co-workers and supervisors which was exhibited by their uncooperative, hostile, and inappropriate behavior toward Plaintiff (Id.). Moreover, Plaintiff submits that, he was frequently assigned to work in the lab alone and was constantly required to engage in activities that exceeded his work restrictions (doc. 13). For example, Plaintiff contends that, some water treatment tests could be performed from a seated position, but that no operator could conduct all of the tests from a seated position. In addition, Plaintiff complains that, he was given little or no assistance to complete the numerous tests that were assigned to him (Id.).

On May 14, 1997 and on June 16, 1997, Plaintiff asserts that, disciplinary action was initiated against him for solely pre-textual and discriminatory reasons that were allegedly due to his disability and his deteriorating relationship with his co-workers and supervisors (Id.). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff sought intervention with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (hereinafter, the "OCRC") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter, the "EEOC") by initiating a complaint and investigation against Defendant for the allegedly "illegal and intolerable conduct" that Plaintiff was being subjected to because of his disability (Id.)

Plaintiff further alleges that, after the OCRC and EEOC initiated their investigation, Defendant subjected Plaintiff to retaliatory and disparate treatment during the his remaining period of employment with Defendant (doc. 1). This conduct was typified by allegedly subjecting Plaintiff to more rigorous performance standards than other like members of Plaintiff's department. Plaintiff asserts that, Defendant engaged in many examples of discriminatory or disparate treatment because of his disability, such as: (1) refusing to extend the same employment benefits offered to other employees of Defendant on like terms and conditions; (2) refusing to curtail harassing conduct exhibited by co-workers; and (3) refusing to consider Plaintiff's grievances on the same terms and conditions as grievance filed by other employees of Defendant (Id.).

Plaintiff also alleges that, the hostility that was directed toward him was not limited to his co-workers, but also involved his immediate and upper level supervisors (doc. 1). For instance, Plaintiff asserts that, prior to his injury and return to work, Defendant agreed to allow Plaintiff the opportunity to attend classes in order to obtain a Master's degree at Wright State University, and further assisted Plaintiff by allowing him to work a flexible schedule with reimbursement of tuition (Id.). However, after the OCRC notified Defendant that it would be investigating charges of disability discrimination, Plaintiff contends that in July of 1997, Defendant

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notified him that he would no longer be reimbursed any expenses related to his education/certification because of his alleged "unsatisfactory performance" (Id.).

On August 7, 1997, a meeting occurred at the local Teamsters office relative to Plaintiff's pending grievances against Defendant. Plaintiff's grievances were filed pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (hereinafter, the "CBA") (doc. 13). Plaintiff submits that, at this meeting, he was told by upper level supervisors that his grievances would not be heard until Plaintiff dismissed his pending OCRC charges against Defendant (Id.). Plaintiff maintains that, the meeting was subsequently terminated when Plaintiff refused (Id.). Sometime in August of 1997, Plaintiff submits that he applied for a position with allegedly "lesser pay and inferior benefits with Warren County," in order to have employment available to him in the event Defendant terminated him (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that, it was his intention to continue in the employment of Defendant by having the disciplinary actions that were taken against him remedied, and by having his work restrictions meaningfully addressed through his superiors (Id.). However, according to Plaintiff, due to the alleged demands of the Assistant City Manager that Plaintiff withdraw his OCRC as a "quid pro quo" for the consideration of his grievances, Plaintiff alleges that, he was "constructively forced" to terminate his employment with Defendant as of September 17, 1997 (Id.).

Plaintiff further asserts that, he has exhausted all of his administrative remedies that are required by law and has received notice from the EEOC of his right-to-sue no later than ninety days from July 9, 1998 (doc. 1). After obtaining a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, Plaintiff filed the instant action on October 8, 1998, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (hereinafter, the "ADA"), Title 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and parallel provisions in the Ohio law (Id.). Plaintiff also filed additional claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision (Id.). On December 7, 1998, Defendant filed its Answer denying Plaintiff's substantive charges and asserting a total of thirteen affirmative defenses in order to counter Plaintiff's five-count Complaint (doc. 3). Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment on July 8, 1999, and maintains no genuine issues of material fact exist which prevent this Court from rendering a judgment as a matter of law (doc. 7). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff submitted his Response (doc. 13), followed by Defendant's Reply (doc. 19). The Court finds Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 7) is now ripe for our determination.

In addition, on December 28, 1999, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike the Affidavit or Lisa Catlett (doc. 17), followed by Defendant's Response (doc. 22), to which Plaintiff did not file a Reply. In his Motion to Strike, Plaintiff offers three arguments in support of his Motion: (1) certain testimony of the Affidavit is not based on personal knowledge; (2) the Affidavit contains inadmissible hearsay; and (3) certain testimony in the Affidavit is allegedly contradicted by Ms Catlett's subsequent deposition testimony (doc. 17).

Having reviewed this matter, the Court finds that, the Affidavit complies with the requirements of Rule 56 of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.2 Furthermore, the Court will view all of the admissible and relevant evidence that is presented by the Parties in a light that is favorable to Plaintiff's view of the facts, in accordance with Rule 56....

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