Motoyama v. State

Decision Date29 March 2012
Docket NumberCiv. No. 10–00464 ACK–RLP.
PartiesElizabeth–Ann K. MOTOYAMA, Plaintiff, v. State of HAWAII, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; Glenn Okimoto, in his official capacity; John Does 1–10; Jane Does 1–10; Doe Government Agencies 1–10; Doe Corporations 1–10; Doe Partnerships 1–10; Doe Individuals, 1–10, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Hawaii


Recognized as Unconstitutional

42 U.S.C.A. § 12202.

Elizabeth–Ann K. Motoyama, Honolulu, HI, pro se.

Maria C. Cook, Department of the Attorney General, Honolulu, HI, for Defendants.


ALAN C. KAY, Senior District Judge.


On August 11, 2010, Plaintiff Elizabeth–Ann K. Motoyama (Plaintiff), appearing pro se,1 filed a complaint against the Hawaii Department of Transportation (“HDOT”), alleging employment discrimination. On August 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) against the HDOT and Glen Okimoto, in his official capacity as current Director of the HDOT (together, Defendants). Doc. No. 56. The Second Amended Complaint asserts claims of unlawful retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII) (Count I), disability discrimination under the ADA (Count II), and violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Count III). SAC ¶¶ 153–65. Plaintiff seeks, inter alia, special, general, and consequential damages, back and front pay, lost employment benefits, and reinstatement to her position. Id. Prayer for Relief.

On November 28, 2011, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (“Defs.' Mot.”). Doc. No. 81. The Motion was accompanied by a memorandum in support (“Defs.' Mot. Mem.”), a concise statement of facts, Declarations of Lisa Dau, Melanie Martin, Ben Gorospe, Maria C. Cook, and exhibits A–KK. Doc. Nos. 81–83. The next day, Defendants filed an amended concise statement of facts (“Defs.' CSF”). Doc. No. 85. On March 6, 2012, Plaintiff filed an opposition to Defendants' Motion (“Pl.'s Opp'n”) and an opposition to Defendants' CSF (“Pl.'s CSF”). Doc. Nos. 105 & 106. On March 7, 2006, Plaintiff filed exhibits A–V, and declarations of Hui–Hsiang Hsu, Jessica L. Kepilino, Karl K. Motoyama, and Plaintiff. Doc. No. 107. On March 13, 2012, Defendants filed a reply (“Defs.' Reply”), which was accompanied by exhibits MM–PP. Doc. No. 108. The Court held a hearing on Defendants' Motion on March 27, 2012.


On September 18, 2007, the HDOT hired Plaintiff as an Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) Specialist for the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”). 3 Defs.' Mot. Mem. 3. Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident shortly thereafter and was on extended leave for medical reasons from October 4, 2007, through January 7, 2008. The injuries resulted in substantially limiting Plaintiff's mobility. SAC ¶ 32.

I. Plaintiff's Requested Accommodations

Plaintiff asserts that while on medical leave, she contacted Ben Gorospe, the ADA Specialist in the HDOT's OCR, to inquire about reasonable accommodations under the ADA. SAC ¶ 33. Specifically, Plaintiff asked about access to an accessible restroom and a parking space in close proximity to her office. Id. According to Plaintiff, Gorospe told her that a nearby parking space was “not available,” and that the first floor restroom, the same floor where Plaintiff's office is located, could not be fitted to become compliant with ADA accessibility. Id.¶ 35. He told her that she could use the restroom on the third floor, which is ADA compliant. Id. Plaintiff asserts Domingo also told her the first floor restrooms could not be ADAfitted. Id. ¶¶ 38–39.

On April 23, 2008, Plaintiff submitted a Report of Work Capabilities, prepared by Dr. Joseph DiCostanzo, to her supervisor, Rey Domingo, that stated Plaintiff should be permitted a flexible schedule to complete a full eight-hour workday due to the extra time needed to travel to the restroom. Defs.' Mot. Exs. G & I. Domingo asserts that Plaintiff was granted the flex time between April 23 and April 28. Defs.' Mot. Declaration of Rey Domingo (“Domingo Declaration”) ¶ 10. According to Plaintiff, Domingo did not grant morning flex-time until June 27, 2008, but “denied extended time in the afternoons by openly complaining and on occasion, instructing her to go home prior to the end of an eight hour work day.” Pl.'s CSF ¶ 14.

On April 28, 2008, Plaintiff sent a memorandum to her co-workers, Melanie Martin and Gorospe, who were acting supervisors during Domingo's absence, with a list of her physical injuries and the Report of Work Capabilities attached. Defs.' Mot. Ex. I. In the memorandum, she stated that she would like to call Martin and Gorospe's attention to provisions which might affect their supervision and work day schedule. Id. Particularly, she explained that “even if I start work at 7:45 am, due to my restroom travels and Vertigo, I will need additional time beyond 4:30 pm to put in an eight-hour work day,” and “I have actually been doing that on certain days in the past; however, it is now officially an accommodation for my disability.” Id.

In April 2008, Domingo provided Plaintiff with a parking accommodation request form, and Plaintiff returned the completed form to Domingo on May 2, 2008. SAC ¶ 40. Plaintiff was contacted by Lisa Dau, the Business Office (“BUS”) Manager, who stated she handled the parking for the HDOT employees. Id. ¶ 41. Dau received Plaintiff's form and Report of Work Capabilities on May 2, 2008. Defs.' Mot. Declaration of Lisa Dau (“Dau Declaration”) ¶ 5. The Report of Work Capabilities verified Plaintiff's accommodation was needed, but did not contain an identifiable period of time for the accommodation as required by regulation. Id. ¶ 6. On May 16, 2008, Dau received the necessary information from Plaintiff's treating physician. Id. On May 20, 2008, Dau approved Plaintiff's application. Id. ¶ 7. Because of the resurfacing of several parking lots, however, no parking was available at that time. Defs.' Mot. Mem. 5. Dau placed Plaintiff in the “Priority List” for a parking space, ahead of other employees who had been waiting for years. Id. A parking space became available on August 1, 2008, and on that day, Plaintiff was assigned a parking space behind the building where she worked.4 Defs. Mot. Ex. R, at 28.

In an e-mail to Domingo dated July 22, 2008, and with the subject line “Confidentiality and Printers,” Plaintiff requested a printer at her desk based on privacy concerns with others reading the documents she printed to the shared printer in the OCR office. See Defs.' Mot. Ex. M, at 1–2. Although not mentioned in her e-mail request, Plaintiff claims she also requested a personal printer because of the “difficulty she experienced repeatedly lifting herself out of her chair.” Pl.'s Opp'n 16. Domingo asserts that Plaintiff did not ask for a printer as an accommodation, but only for privacy concerns. Domingo Declaration ¶ 12. He further declared that he did not grant her request “because there was no issue of privacy and confidentiality.” Id.

Plaintiff submitted an updated accommodation request in February 10, 2009, stating that [t]he main difference from last year” was a request for a computer glare screen, a leg rest, and a lumbar support cushion for her desk chair. Defs.' Mot. Ex. L. E-mails establish that on February 12, 2009, Plaintiff was given a leg rest and Domingo requested that a computer glare screen and lumbar support cushion be purchased for her. See Defs.' Mot. Ex. E, at 55–57. Plaintiff asserts that she received a broken leg rest, a broken glare screen that had to be taped in place, and never received the lumbar support cushion. Pl.'s Opp'n 17. Defendants submitted a declaration by Domingo that Plaintiff was given a computer glare screen, a foot rest, and a lumbar support cushion for her chair. Domingo Declaration ¶ 11.

II. Plaintiff's Investigation of Employee Complaints

Plaintiff's retaliation claims are based on her investigation of seven complaints by employees that she investigated as part of her job duties. Plaintiff's Title VII claims are based on five investigations and her ADA claims are based on two investigations.5

A. Alleged Title VII Investigations

Plaintiff investigated two complaints filed by J.S. on September 14, 2007, and June 26, 2008, which was “a combination of whistle-blowing and a workplace violation.” Defs.' Mot. Ex. D., Deposition of Motoyama (Pl.'s Dep.), 44:5–9. Plaintiff made no findings or conclusions regarding this investigation because J.S. withdrew his complaints. Id. at 48:10–11, 12–23. She asserts that Administrative Services Officer Gerald Dang ignored her efforts to resolve the problem and “began to shun her.” SAC ¶ 96.

In March 2008, Plaintiff was assigned to investigate a complaint in which H.H. alleged that another employee had sexually harassed her. Pl.'s Opp'n 22; Defs.' Ex. F, at 8. A settlement agreement between H.H. and the other employee resulted in H.H. closing her complaint. Pl.'s Opp'n 22. After the other employee allegedly breached the settlement agreement, H.H. returned to Plaintiff to file another complaint. Id. Plaintiff assisted H.H., with Domingo's permission, in writing her complaint due to H.H.'s difficulties with English. Id. Plaintiff “typed it out for [H.H.] for [Plaintiff's] purposes, for [Plaintiff's] file.” Pl.'s Dep. 50:13–13. H.H. informed Plaintiff that she intended to file an EEOC Charge. Id. at 51:7–10. Upon H.H.'s request, and with permission of Domingo, Plaintiff allowed H.H. to take the statement Plaintiff wrote. Id. at 51:14–20. “To [Plaintiff's] shock,” H.H. used the typewritten statement as her EEOC charge. Id. at 53:4–12. Subsequently, at an OCR meeting, Martin “chastised [Plaintiff] for assisting [H.H.] and for advising her of her alternatives for filing a complaint.” Pl.'s Opp'n 22.

In July 2008, C.D. filed a sexual harassment complaint against N.S. Defs.' Mot. Ex. F, at 9. Plaintiff asserts that this...

To continue reading

Request your trial
75 cases
  • Reno v. Nielson
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Hawaii
    • 8 Mayo 2020 litigants when they technically violate a rule. Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924 (9th Cir. 1986); Motoyama v. Haw. Dep't of Transp., 864 F. Supp. 2d 965, 976 (D. Haw. 2012). However, pro se litigants are "not excused from knowing the most basic pleading requirements." Am. Ass'n of Nat......
  • Armijo v. Costco Wholesale Warehouse, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Hawaii
    • 28 Abril 2022
    ...227 F.3d 1104, 1107 (9th Cir. 2000). Pro se litigants must follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants. Motoyama, 864 F.Supp.2d at 975. pro se litigants are subject to the same rules at summary judgment as those represented by counsel. Jacobson, 790 F.2d at 1362; Rand v. ......
  • Stone v. Haw. Dep't of Educ.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Hawaii
    • 22 Mayo 2017
    ...of a violation of a constitutional right must utilize 42 U.S.C. § 1983.") (citations omitted); Motoyama v. Hawaii, Dep't of Transp., 864 F. Supp. 2d 965, 992 (D. Haw. 2012), aff'd, 584 F. App'x 399 (9th Cir. 2014) ("[T]here is no direct cause of action under the United States Constitution a......
  • McAllister v. Hawaiiana Mgmt. Co., Civil No. 11–00056 ACK–KSC.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Hawaii
    • 8 Marzo 2013 se plaintiff technically violates a rule, the court should act with leniency toward the pro se litigant. Motoyama v. Haw. Dep't of Transp., 864 F.Supp.2d 965, 975 (D.Haw.2012); Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924 (9th Cir.1986). However, pro se litigants are “not excused from knowing th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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