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Charlery v. Department of Education of City New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 15, 2017

JACQUELINE CHARLERY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK and THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          J. PAUL OETKEN, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jacqueline Charlery brings this action under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), alleging discrimination and retaliation. (Dkt. No. 3 (“Compl.”).) Defendant the Department of Education of the City of New York[1] (“DOE”) moved for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. No. 20.) The Court issued an Order informing the parties that it intended to convert the motion for judgment on the pleadings to a motion for summary judgment and gave them time to respond. (Dkt. No. 28.) For the reasons that follow, the DOE's motion, converted to a motion for summary judgment, is granted.

         I. Background

         The following facts are undisputed, except where otherwise noted.

         Charlery is a special-education teacher who has been employed by the DOE since 1989. (Comp. ¶ 7.) Charlery has been on a leave of absence since she was injured in a school bus accident on March 30, 2015. (Id. ¶ 19.) She alleges that her situation should qualify her for a line of duty injury, but that her claim was unfairly denied based on her disability and that she faced retaliation in 2014 as a result of her advocacy on behalf of her daughter, who also has a disability. (Id. ¶¶ 20-29.)

         Charlery initiated this action in New York Supreme Court on September 28, 2015, and the DOE subsequently removed it to this Court. (Dkt. No. 1.) She filed the operative Amended Complaint on November 3, 2015, which the DOE answered on January 8, 2016; the DOE filed an amended answer on May 31, 2016. (Compl.; Dkt. No. 15.)

         This lawsuit, however, is not Charlery's first action against the DOE. Charlery previously sued the DOE in connection with injuries sustained when she slipped on school premises in January 2010 (the “Tort Action”). (See Dkt. No. 22-1; Compl. ¶ 10.) The parties settled the Tort Action in 2015. In connection with that settlement, Charlery signed a release of claims and received payment of $35, 000. (Dkt. No. 22-3.) In the “General Release, ” Dated:

October 26, 2015, Charlery agreed to:
[R]elease and forever discharge [the DOE] from any and all claims, causes of action, suits, debts, sums of money, accounts, controversies, transactions, occurrences, agreements, promises, damages, judgments, executions, and demands whatsoever, known or unknown, which [Charlery] had, now has or hereafter can, shall, or may have . . . against the [DOE] for, upon or by reason of any matter, cause or thing whatsoever that occurred through the date of this RELEASE.

(Id.)

         On November 10, 2016, the DOE moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the General Release precludes this action. (Dkt. No. 20.) The Court notified the parties that it intended to convert the DOE's motion for judgment on the pleadings into a motion for summary judgment because of the centrality of the General Release to the DOE's arguments. (Dkt. No. 28 at 1.) The parties subsequently filed supplemental briefs addressing the motion as a summary judgment motion. (Dkt. Nos. 29, 31.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Where materials outside the pleadings are presented on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(d) permits the Court to convert the motion into a motion for summary judgment, provided that the parties are given notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Hernandez v. Coffey, 582 F.3d 303, 307 (2d Cir. 2009).

         The Court may grant summary judgment where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if, considering the record as a whole, a rational jury could find in favor of the non-moving party. Ricci ...


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