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SANZO v. UNIONDALE UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT

November 1, 2002

NICHOLAS SANZO, PLAINTIFF,
V.
UNIONDALE UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT, GRAND AVENUE SCHOOL, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur D. Spatt, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

On February 6, 2002, Nicholas Sanzo ("Sanzo" or the "plaintiff") filed a complaint against his former employer, Uniondale Union Free School District ("District") and Grand Avenue School ("School") (collectively, the "defendants") alleging that the defendants terminated him because of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. and the New York Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law ("NYHRL") § 290 et seq.

Presently before the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R.Civ.P."). The defendants' motion focuses entirely on the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint under the ADA. Therefore, although the plaintiff must still properly plead his claim under the NYHRL, this decision will not address the adequacy of his state law claim.
I. BACKGROUND
The following facts are taken from Sanzo's amended complaint dated April 10, 2002, which the Court takes to be true. Beginning in or about 1998, the plaintiff began having trouble staying awake during the day. In August 1998, the plaintiff was hired by the District as Head Custodian for the School with the responsibilities to clean the entire school building, perform maintenance and supervise four custodians. While performing his custodial duties, he "uncontrollably" fell asleep. As a result, he visited a doctor who treated him for fatigue. Soon thereafter, he reported to the School's principal, Juanita Bryant-Bell, that he was having difficulty staying awake during the day and that he was under the care of his doctor. Although he notified the School's principal of his sleeping problem, the principal nevertheless disciplined him for falling asleep at work.

In or about May 1999, the School notified him that he would be examined by the School's doctor and that he would be contacted to set up an appointment. According to the plaintiff, because no one contacted him, he was never examined by the School's doctor.

The District's superintendent, Gene Levenstein, contacted the plaintiff's own doctor to inquire about his sleeping problem. The doctor reported to the superintendent that his sleeping problem was caused by a medical condition but that he had not yet diagnosed the specific condition. The doctor further informed the superintendent that despite the plaintiff's condition, he was still capable of performing his job.
In an affidavit dated May 16, 2002, the plaintiff claims that he attended a sleep clinic study at Winthrop University Hospital at the beginning of March 2001. On or about April 14, 2001, the plaintiff was diagnosed with narcolepsy and sleep apnea. The plaintiff asserts that he was formally diagnosed with these sleeping disorders during the same month as his termination.
According to the plaintiff, these disorders caused him to involuntarily fall asleep several times a day and substantially limited his major life activities of eating, standing, talking, driving and showering. In order to sleep at night, the plaintiff claims that a breathing machine must be attached to his mouth. The plaintiff alleges that although his disability substantially limited his ability to work, he was able to perform the essential functions of his job such as sweeping, mopping, dusting, emptying garbage cans, wiping off cafeteria tables, cleaning bathrooms, performing maintenance around the school grounds and supervising his subordinate employees. However, the plaintiff asserts that he could perform these duties for only a short period of time.
On or about July 12, 2001, the plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was issued a right to sue letter on December 19, 2001. On February 6, 2002, the plaintiff commenced this action. On April 11, 2002, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint.

The defendants move to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint under the ADA pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on the grounds that, (1) the amended complaint fails to state that the plaintiff is "disabled" or was "regarded as" disabled, and (2) the defendants did not have notice of his disability.

II. DISCUSSION
A. The Standard under Rule ...

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