The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer, Chief United States District Court Judge.
The plaintiffs, Leslie Maynard ("Maynard") and Melvin Bonner
("Bonner"), were both employed by New York State Electric & Gas ("NYSEG")
as first-class gas fitters. Both suffered work-related injuries, which
permanently partially disabled them. After their injuries, both men
retained, for a time, their classification as first-class gas fitters,
and worked full time, but they performed only light-duty assignments.
When, according to NYSEG, such light work was no longer available, both
men were placed on disability leave because they could not perform all
their required functions as first-class gas fitters. Maynard retired,
effective January 1, 2000, apparently because his disability benefits had
been exhausted. Bonner, who has not worked since June 1999, is currently
receiving disability benefits from NYSEG.
Because of NYSEG's refusal to carry both men as first-class gas
fitters, they filed complaints alleging violations of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, ("ADA" or "the Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
Presently pending before this Court are defendant's motions for summary
judgment. Because I find that neither plaintiff is capable of performing
the essential functions of the desired job — first-class gas fitter
— their claims under the ADA fail, and summary judgment is,
therefore, granted in favor of the defendant.
Maynard was first employed by NYSEG in June 1975, and became a
first-class gas fitter in 1987. He was injured on June 25, 1996, and
ultimately suffered a 40 or 45 percent loss of the use of his right hand
and a 25 percent loss in his right knee. Maynard was cleared by his
doctors to return to work in February 1997, but on a very restricted
For example, Dr. Frederick Kaempffe indicated that Maynard was to be on
light-duty status, with "no lifting, pushing, or pulling with his right
upper extremity." Ilacqua Aff., Ex. D. After an examination conducted at
the request of NYSEG's workers compensation carrier, Dr. Martin Korn
noted that Maynard should not "kneel, do stairs, squat, or do other than
alternate standing and sitting as comfort requires." Id. at Ex. E, p. 3.
He also noted that Maynard "should avoid lifting more than five pounds as
well as avoiding heavy pushing and pulling, and should not use hand
On January 30, 1998, Maynard was examined by Dr. Robert Dickerson on
behalf of NYSEG. Dr. Dickerson concluded that Maynard had a "moderate
degree of partial disability with his right wrist and a mild degree of
partial disability with his right knee." Ilacqua Aff., Ex. I, p. 3. He
determined that Maynard had "reached maximum medical improvement with
both his right wrist and right knee," and noted that his current work
restrictions were still necessary. Id. After reviewing the first-class
gas fitter job description, he found that Maynard was "not able to do
that job without restrictions at the present time." Id. For the remainder
of his tenure at NYSEG, Maynard's work duties were restricted. See Id. at
Aff., Exs. J, K. M, N.
Bonner began his employment with NYSEG in 1965, and he became a
first-class gas fitter in 1976. On September 30, 1990, Bonner was injured
on the job.
Bonner underwent arthroscopic surgery in 1991, and again in 1992.
Following his second surgery, his surgeon, Dr. Charles Jordan, indicated
that Bonner should be
restricted to light-duty assignments, which do not
involve "excessive standing, excessive walking, excessive pole and/or
structure climbing, excessive stair climbing, prolonged physical
exertion, lifting or excessive bending, and driving." Ditzel Aff., Ex.
E. Dr. Jordan also indicated that Bonner was limited to sedentary
activity until further notice. Id. In 1993, Dr. Lucien Rouse recommended
that plaintiff's "light-duty status be a permanent restriction." Ditzel
Aff., Ex. G, p. 2.
Bonner continued to experience problems with his knee, and in June of
1999, he underwent another arthroscopic procedure. Following this
surgery, Bonner's doctor permitted him to return to work in September of
1999. Bonner was not permitted to kneel, stand for extended periods,
climb stairs, or drive or sit without breaks. Ditzel Aff., Ex. P. Bonner
is still subject to the same work restrictions. In addition, his current
medication sometimes causes dizziness or drowsiness.
Defendant's Statement of Material Facts, ¶ 15 (undisputed by
A motion for summary judgment shall 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). It is the moving party's burden to
demonstrate "the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323(1986). "When the moving party has
carried its burden," the non-moving party "must do more than 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
(1986). "[T]he non-moving party must come forward with `specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587 (emphasis
in original) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).
The ADA provides that "[n]o covered entity shall discriminate against a
qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such
individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring,
advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job
training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment."
42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). A "qualified individual with a disability" is
one who "with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the
essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds
or desires." Id. at 12111(8).
A reasonable accommodation may include: "job restructuring, part-time
or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position,
acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate
adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or
policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and ...