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WEISS v. CITY OF NEW YORK

March 28, 2003

ERIC WEISS, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Laura Taylor Swain, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Eric Weiss ("Plaintiff") brings this action pro se against the City of New York*fn1 ("Defendant"), alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., for failure to accommodate Plaintiff's disability when Plaintiff was employed by Defendant, and alleging retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq. This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331(West 2002).

The Court has considered thoroughly all submissions related to this motion. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

BACKGROUND

The facts and procedural history of the case are set forth in a Report and Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Dolinger on May 4, 2001, and adopted by this Court on August 23, 2001 (the "Report"). Familiarity with the Report is assumed. The only evidence that has subsequently been provided to the Court are portions of the transcript of a deposition of the Plaintiff, taken on July 24, 2002; portions of the transcript of Plaintiff's workers' compensation hearing, on October 24, 1996; and documents from Defendant relating to Plaintiff's employment and termination.

DISCUSSION

Summary Judgment

Standard Summary judgment shall be granted in favor of a moving party where 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court does not engage in fact-finding or weighing of credibility, but determines whether any material questions of fact are in dispute after resolving all ambiguities and drawing all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250; Carlton v. Mystic Transportation Inc., 202 F.3d 129, 133 (2d Cir. 2000). Conclusory allegations, conjecture and speculation will not, however, create a genuine issue of fact. Kerzer v. Knigly Manufacturing, 156 F.3d 396, 400 (2d Cir. 1998). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Converse v. General Motors Corp., 893 F.2d 513, 514 (2d Cir. 1990). If there is evidence in the record as to any material fact from which an inference could be drawn in favor of the non-movant, summary judgment is inappropriate. Rattner v. Netburn, 930 F.2d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 1991). However, the non-moving party must offer "concrete particulars" to defeat the motion; it cannot succeed "by offering purely conclusory allegations of discrimination." Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989, 998 (2d Cir. 1985).

Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court liberally construes his arguments, and judges his pleadings on "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). The Court has an obligation to "read [the pro se party's] supporting papers liberally, and . . . interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994). However, "proceeding pro se does not otherwise relieve a litigant from the usual requirements of summary judgment. " Valentine v. Standard & Poor's, 50 F. Supp.2d 262, 280 (S.D. N.Y. 1999). Even if proceeding pro se, "the non-moving party must provide this Court with some basis to believe that his `version of relevant events is not fanciful.'" Lee v. Coughlin, 902 F. Supp. 424, 429 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (citing Christian Dior-New York, Inc. v. Koret, Inc., 792 F.2d 34, 37-39 (2d Cir.1986)).

Burden-Shifting Analysis

Claims of violations of the ADA are analyzed within the burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corporation v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). See Greenway v. Buffalo Hilton Hotel, 143 F.3d 47, 52 (2d Cir. 1998). According to this analysis, the plaintiff must initially come forward with facts sufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Id. If and when the plaintiff meets this burden, it creates a presumption that the defendant discriminated unlawfully. Id. The burden of production then shifts to the defendant, who must proffer a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions in order to rebut the presumption. Id. If the defendant furnishes such a reason, the presumption of unlawful discrimination is eliminated, and the plaintiff bears the ultimate burden to prove that the employer's proffered explanation is merely a pretext for unlawful discrimination. Id.

Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden at the first step of the McDonnell Douglas analysis by not establishing a prima facie case of disability discrimination or retaliation, and asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment on that basis. The Court, therefore, considers whether Plaintiff has met its initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of disability discrimination or retaliation. As explained below, the Court finds that the Plaintiff ...


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