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Perry v. State Insurance Fund

November 8, 2006

HELLEN I. PERRY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STATE INSURANCE FUND, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Presently before the Court is Defendant's renewed*fn1 motion for summary judgment on the two remaining claims*fn2 in this case - a Title II ADA claim and a Title VII race discrimination claim. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from Defendant's Local 56.1 statement, Plaintiff's statement of material facts, and the evidence submitted. The facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

Plaintiff, an African-American female was appointed to the position of Clerk 1, Grade 6 in the Actuarial Department of Defendant's office located in Hempstead, New York on September 24, 1992. Plaintiff's duties as a Clerk 1, Grade 6 included, but were not limited to, "maintaining records and files;" " receiving screening, reviewing and verifying documents;" and "searching for and compiling information and data." Civil Service Classification Standard for Clerk I, Grade 6 position (Ex. "D" to Herimaat Aff. dated Dec. 22, 2004, (hereinafter "Herimaat Aff.")). Plaintiff was assigned to the Actuarial Department where her duties included "retiring folders from the Claims-Medical Department" and "retrieving cases from the Claims-Medical Department for review by the Actuarial Department." Herimaat Aff., at ¶ 6. In order to perform these integral functions of the Clerk 1, Grade 6 position, it was necessary for Plaintiff to stoop, bend, lift and carry files.

Due to an injury to her knees Plaintiff was absent from work from February 1998 through April 1998. While she was out, a reorganization occurred. Upon Plaintiff's return in April 1998, she was reassigned on a rotation basis to the Claims-Medical Department which appointment resulted in an increased amount of files that Plaintiff was required to retrieve. During May 1998, Plaintiff presented notes and letters to her supervisor from her doctor, Dr. Benatar, M.D., to the effect that Plaintiff was limited to "light duty," and could not do any heavy lifting or carrying or bending. (Herimaat Aff., Ex. J & K.) On June 3, 1998, Plaintiff presented to her manager a letter requesting a transfer due to the fact that she was "unable to perform the physical duties on a regular unit." (See id., Ex. H.) This request was denied by Plaintiff's manager because according to him, there were no such positions available in the Clerk 1 category. Also on June 3, 1998, Plaintiff submitted a letter to Defendant's Director of Administration, claiming that her manager was discriminating against her because she was not being given a light duty assignment. (Id., Ex. L.) An investigation was commenced by Defendant to determine what type of reasonable accommodation she required. Plaintiff was given a Request for Reasonable Accommodation form for her to complete and return. Plaintiff returned the form in early July 1998. In Section A of the form, Plaintiff requested light duty because she could not "do excessive bending, standing, walking or sitting. (Id., Ex. O). In August 1998, Plaintiff was examined by Employee Health Services ("EHS"). A determination was made by the EHS's doctor, Dr. Falco, that Plaintiff was unable to perform the essential functions of her position with or without reasonable accommodations. (See id., Ex. P at 352.) Meanwhile,on June 10, 1998, Plaintiff went out on workers' compensation. After being out on leave for a year, on June 23, 1999, Plaintiff was terminated pursuant to Section 71 of the New York Civil Service Law.

On July 21, 1998, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR"), alleging that she was discriminated against based on disability under Title I and II of the ADA, race, and gender. (Herimaat Aff., ¶ 17.) In its Determination and Order After Investigation dated October 27, 2000, SDHR determined that there was "No Probable Cause to believe that the said respondent has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." (Id., Ex. T at 428.) On March 7, 2001, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. (Id., Ex. U at 506.) This action followed.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is generally appropriate 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." Chelates Corp. v. Citrate, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e).

When a pro se litigant is faced with a motion for summary judgment, the court must "read the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally and interpret them 'to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" McPherson v. Camb., 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)). Nevertheless, the existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of non-movant's position is insufficient to defeat the motion; there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's Title II ADA Claim

Defendant moves for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's Title II ADA claim arguing that Plaintiff has failed to establish that its conduct was motivated by discriminatory animus or ill will based on her disability. (See Def.'s Summ. J. Mem. at 4.) Plaintiff opposes the motion claiming that Defendant discriminated against her based on her disability by failing to provide her with reasonable accommodations and terminating her.

Title II of the ADA ("Title II") provides that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." 42 U.S.C. ยง 12132. A public entity includes "(A) any State or local government; [and] (B) any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local ...


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