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STUBBS v. MARC CENTER

January 21, 1997

LAWRENCE D. STUBBS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARC CENTER, A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ILLINOIS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER

Defendant Marc Center ("Center") is a not-for-profit organization providing services to disabled individuals. In an ironic twist, one of its employees, Lawrence B. Stubbs ("Stubbs"), has filed a Complaint against the Center for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. #28].

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The budget preparation process involves, among other things, meeting with individual administrators and groups of administrators, formatting the Center's computer program, creating spreadsheets, and distributing budget worksheets to various administrators. The budget process also requires the Finance Director to have access to the Center's mainframe computer in order to "link" it to various software systems. According to the Center, its mainframe computer operates on a different operating system than standard personal computers Thus, Stubbs could not have accessed the Center's computer from home via a modem. Instead, he would have needed an AS-400 system in his home with an actual cable hookup, which costs about $40,000. Stubbs disputes this fact. Claiming to have experience in data entry from a modem into the mainframe use of a computer, he believes that it was possible for him to have linked into the mainframe computer from his personal computer at home.*fn1

Preparation of the budget is a duty of the Finance Director over and above his regular day-to-day duties. These duties required Stubbs to be outside of his office fifty percent of time. Stubbs would go to employees' job sites, review what they actually did, and meet with various administrators in their offices. During this initial period at the Center, Stubbs met almost every day with Executive Director Servey, Business Manager Edmiaston, and the clerical employees he supervised. He also would review and sign off on all of the employees' timecards each day and personally authorize time off for his subordinates depending on the work flow on that particular day. In the past, the combined duties of the Finance Director position during the budget season had required the Finance Director to work 70 to 80 hours per week, including weekends.*fn2

On October 23, 1994, only 21 days after he had begun his employment with the Center, Stubbs suffered a heart attack which required his hospitalization. Prior to this time, Stubbs had been working 50 to 60 hours a week on his regular day-to-day activities as well as on reviewing manuals and learning how to perform his job duties. Stubbs admits that at the time of his heart attack, he was still in a "learning curve," but that he had completed eighty percent of his work in reviewing the Center's operational manuals and computer systems. However, he had not yet begun working on the budget.

Stubbs had a successful bypass operation within one or two days of his heart attack. After this operation, the Center's Executive Director Charles Servey ("Servey") testified that Stubbs' wife told him Stubbs would not be returning to work for eight to twelve weeks. He thus assumed that Stubbs "was strapped to machines and otherwise and incapacitated, at least for eight to twelve weeks." Stubbs' wife denies having made this statement.

Stubbs admits that he could not work at all for two weeks following his operation. At the beginning of the third week after the operation, Stubbs' co-worker, Karen Edmiaston, ran into Stubbs at a Wal-Mart store and spoke with him for about an hour. She described him as looking physically tired. She testified that he walked into the store and then was given a special cart in which to ride. Stubbs explained to her that he was in a wheelchair at that time because he could not get around stores.

Also about two weeks after his operation, Stubbs went to see his doctor, Dr. Hoy, for a follow-up visit. Stubbs asked him if he could return to work and Dr. Hoy said he would leave that up to Stubbs' discretion. Dr. Hoy did say, however, that Stubbs "would not be able to put in an eight hour day" and that he could only perform a light workload and would need to rest. Sometime after this point, Stubbs had a minor stroke which affected his back and prevented him from driving.

Stubbs submitted an affidavit dated December 19, 1996, in which he states in pertinent part:

  7. Based upon my experience in budgeting and with my
    knowledge of financial control functions I was able
    to perform the essential functions of my job within
    one week after my release from the hospital. The
    budget would have been completed in time for the
    December Board meeting.
  8. I was able to perform work on premises at Marc
    Center within one week after my termination from
    employment. I could have worked a 40-hour plus week
    at Marc Center with periods of rest. The pattern
    would have continued for approximately two weeks
    when I ...

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