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MANZ v. GAFFNEY
May 6, 2002
DOUGLAS W. MANZ, PLAINTIFF,
ROBERT J. GAFFNEY, IN HIS PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY, COUNTY OF SUFFOLK, JOHN B. WINGATE, COMMISSIONER, SUFFOLK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.
Presently before the court is the County's motion for summary
judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is
granted and the case is dismissed.
The facts upon which the court relies are those set forth in
Plaintiffs complaint as well as in the various depositions and
uncontroverted documents submitted to the court in support of
and in opposition to the motion.
Plaintiff was hired by the County in 1995 pursuant to Section
55-a of the New York State Civil Service Law ("Section 55-a").
That section, entitled "Employment of persons with disabilities
by municipalities," authorized entities, like Suffolk County, to
set aside a number of positions with duties that can be
performed by qualified physically or mentally disabled persons.
Individuals hired under Section 55-a must be certified either by
the New York State Department of Social Services Commission for
the Blind and Visually Handicapped as blind, or by the State
Education Department as otherwise physically or mentally
disabled. Section 55-a allows counties to extend the same
opportunities for promotion to employees hired pursuant to that
section as afforded other employees. Plaintiff was hired for the
position of "Examiner I" after being certified by the New York
State Commission for the Blind.
In 1997, Plaintiff was tested for a promotion to the position
of "caseworker trainee." The complaint alleges that Manz scored
a 95 out of a possible 100 points on the promotion examination.
Manz's complaint states that he interviewed for the caseworker
trainee position on several occasions between November of 1997
and March of 1999. Although Plaintiff was never offered the
promotion, he asserts that during the time period that he
interviewed for the job, the County hired fifty caseworker
trainees. Plaintiff asserts that the failure to promote him was
based upon his disability.
Plaintiff filed a Notice of Claim against the County in May of
1998. In June of 1998, Plaintiff asked his supervisor for leave
time so that he could attend a meeting with a county attorney to
discuss his claim of disability discrimination. Plaintiff
alleges that after the June 1998 meeting, he received a poor
performance evaluation. According to Plaintiff, this evaluation,
as well as the refusals to promote Plaintiff that followed the
filing of the Notice of Claim and the June 1998 meeting, were
acts taken in retaliation for the making of a claim of
II. Plaintiff's Complaint
III. The Motion to Dismiss
Prior to seeking summary judgment, Defendants sought dismissal
of all claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. In the context of that motion, the County
argued that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the
ADA. In support of this position it was argued: (1) that
Plaintiff did not suffer from a physical impairment and (2) that
Plaintiff suffered no substantial limitation in the performance
of any major life activity. In this regard it was argued that
driving has been rejected as constituting a "major life
activity" within the meaning of the ADA.
The County sought dismissal of the "record of a disability"
claim on the ground that the hiring of Plaintiff pursuant to
Section 55-a did not constitute a "record of a disability"
within the meaning of the ADA. In a similar vein, the County
argued that the claim of perceived disability must fail because
Manz was never perceived as having a disability within the
meaning of the ADA. Finally, dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for
retaliation was sought on the ground that Plaintiff failed to
allege facts sufficient to show a causal connection between any
protected activities and adverse employment action.
This court granted the motion to dismiss only to the extent of
precluding Plaintiff from relying on driving as a major life
activity within the meaning of the ADA. The remainder of the
motion was denied as premature in light of the lack of
Having completed discovery and armed with deposition testimony
and documentary evidence, the County again seeks dismissal of
the complaint — this time in the form of a motion for summary
A. Standards For Summary Judgement
A motion for summary judgement is properly granted only if the
court determines that no genuine issue of material fact exists
and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
FRCP 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 250,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The party seeking
judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no issue of fact
exists. McLee v. Chrysler Corp. 109 F.3d 130, 134 (2d Cir.
1997). However, when the nonmoving party fails to make a showing
on an essential elements of its case with respect to which it
bears the burden of proof, summary judgment will be granted.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548,
91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The party resisting summary judgment must
not only show a disputed issue of fact, but it must also be a
material fact in light of substantive law. Only disputed facts
that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law will properly preclude the
entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 242, 106
B. Burden Shifting Analysis
Claims of employment discrimination brought pursuant to the
ADA are subject to the burden shifting analysis set forth in
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-04, 93
S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973); see Heyman v. Queens Village
Committee for Mental Health, 198 F.3d 68, 72 (2d Cir. 1999);
Rivera v. Apple Industrial Corp., 148 F. Supp.2d 202, 211
Under the McDonnell Douglas analysis, the plaintiff bears
the burden of showing a prima facie case of discrimination.
The burden of production then shifts to defendant to offer a
non-discriminatory reason for the employment action. Thereafter,
it is for the plaintiff to show that the reason offered by
defendant is a pretext for discrimination. The plaintiffs final
burden is satisfied either by the introduction of additional
evidence or by reliance on the evidence submitted in support of
the prima facie case of ...