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KENDALL v. FISSE

May 25, 2004.

JEFFREY KENDALL, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM J. FISSE, LAURIE LEDFORD, GILBERT SUTCLIFFE, LAWRENCE PHILLIPS, CITIBANK, N.A., CITIGROUP, INC., and CITICORP, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STERLING JOHNSON, JR., District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Jeffrey Kendall ("Kendall" or "Plaintiff") filed the present action against William J. Fisse ("Fisse"), Laurie Ledford ("Ledford"), Gilbert Sutcliffe ("Sutcliffe"), Lawrence Phillips ("Phillips"), Citibank, N.A. ("Citibank"), Citigroup, Inc., and Citicorp, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants") for (1) employment discrimination pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq; New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. McKinney's Exec. Law § 296; and New York City Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), New York City Admin. Code § 8-107; (2) breach of employment contract; and (3) improper termination to avoid providing employee benefits as provided in § 510 of ERISA (29 U.S.C. § 1140). Before this Court are Defendants' motions for (a) summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (b) attorney's fees and costs, and (c) sanctions against Plaintiff pursuant to Rule 11(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as Plaintiff's letter request (which this Court construes as a motion) for sanctions against Defendants and/or their counsel. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and their motion for attorney's fees, costs, and sanctions is DENIED. Plaintiff's motion for sanctions is also DENIED. BACKGROUND*fn1

  In approximately June 1996, Plaintiff began his employment as a "Lead Consultant" in the Human Resources Department of Citibank's New York Consumer Bank ("NYCB").*fn2 In this position, Plaintiff reported directly to William Fisse, then Director of Human Resources for NYCB. Plaintiff alleges that in September 1996, he began having health problems. (Compl. ¶ 32.) Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff contends, he discussed his health problems with Fisse. (Compl. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff alleges that Fisse reacted in an unsupportive manner, distancing himself from Plaintiff and "start[ing] a campaign of both questioning [Plaintiff] about his personal affairs, his marriage and his health." (Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Summ. J. Mot. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 8; Compl. ¶¶ 35-36.)

  In April 1997, Plaintiff was transferred to the Long Island Region of NYCB, where he worked in the position of Generalist.*fn3 In August 1997, Fisse was formally transferred out of NYCB and did not thereafter supervise Kendall. Kerry Piercy served as Fisse's interim replacement until February 1998, when Laurie Ledford was appointed as Director of Human Resources for NYCB. In approximately September 1998, NYCB's Long Island and Queens business regions were consolidated and one Generalist position (Plaintiff's) was eliminated. In November 1998, Plaintiff received a notice of job discontinuance and was terminated.

  Plaintiff remained in his position during a "notice period" through February 5, 1999. After that date, he was placed on salary continuation and received his full salary and medical insurance coverage for six months (through August 6, 1999). Plaintiff never applied for disability benefits, even though he was eligible to do so through February 5, 1999.

  On August 18, 1999, Plaintiff applied for Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI"), stating in his application that he "became unable to work because of [his] disabling condition on November 15, 1998." (Decl. of Joseph Baumgarten ("Baumgarten Decl.") Ex. 15.) Plaintiff also stated that he "worked from 1984 through November, 1998 when [he] was laid-off rather than be placed on disability leave." (Id.) After evaluating his disability claim, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determined that Plaintiff had become disabled under SSA rules on November 15, 1998 and was eligible for SSDI benefits beginning May 1999. (Baumgarten Decl. Ex. 16.) SSA thereafter began to pay Plaintiff disability benefits.

  DISCUSSION

  I. Summary Judgment Standard

  Summary judgment is proper "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). The court's function is not to resolve disputed issues of fact, but only to determine whether there is a genuine issue to be tried. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Eastman Mach. Co. v. United States, 841 F.2d 469, 473 (2d Cir. 1988). It is well-established that "summary judgment may be appropriate even in the fact-intensive context of discrimination cases." Abdu-Brisson v. Delta Air Lines, 239 F.3d 456, 466 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 993 (2001); Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing that no genuine factual dispute exists. See Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 196, 202 (2d Cir. 1995). Once the movant has made a showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact to be tried, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to raise triable issues of fact. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. Mere conclusory allegations will not suffice. Instead, the nonmoving party must present "significant probative supporting evidence" that a factual dispute exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

  A genuine issue for trial exists if, based on the record as a whole, a reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 249. In conducting its analysis, the court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in the nonmoving party's favor, and construe the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254-255; Sutera v. Schering Corp., 73 F.3d 13, 16 (2d Cir. 1995). However, the court should grant summary judgment where the nonmoving party's evidence is merely colorable, conclusory, speculative, or not significantly probative. See Parker v. Chrysler Corp., 929 F. Supp. 162, 165 (S.D.N.Y. 1996).

  II. Plaintiff's ADA Claims

  A Plaintiff seeking to bring an action under the ADA in New York State must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act. 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), incorporating 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1) (2004). See also Butts v. City of N.Y. Dep't of Hous. Pres. and Dev., 990 F.2d 1397, 1401 (2d Cir. 1993). The statute of limitations begins to run when the employee receives notice of an allegedly discriminatory decision — not when the employee is actually impacted by it. Del. State Coll. v. Ricks, 449 U.S. 250 (1980); Miller v. ITT Corp., 755 F.2d 20, 24 (2d Cir. 1985).

  In the present case, it is undisputed that Plaintiff received a job discontinuance notice sometime in November 1998, and that Plaintiff believed that he would not be offered another job at Citibank. (Baumgarten Decl., Ex. 4 at 47-48, 71-72, 709-10.) Plaintiff's EEOC charge was not filed until November 5, 1999, well beyond the 300 day statute of limitations. (See ...


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