The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, Senior District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Michael Korzeniowski ("Korzeniowski") has sued ABF Freight
Systems, Inc. ("ABF"), asserting that ABF violated the Americans
with Disabilities Act ("ADA," 42 U.S.C. § 12101-12117*fn1) by
discriminating against him because of his arteriosclerotic heart
disease. Korzeniowski brought additional claims of age
discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
("ADEA," 29 U.S.C. § 621-634) and intentional infliction of
emotional distress, an Illinois common law claim over which this
Court has 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) supplemental jurisdiction.
ABF now moves for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule")
56. Both sides have complied with this District Court's General
Rule ("GR") 12(M) and 12(N),*fn2 and the motion is fully briefed
and ready for decision. For the reasons set out in this
memorandum opinion and order, ABF's motion is granted and this
action is dismissed.
Summary Judgment Standards
Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on ABF the burden of
establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact
(Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct.
2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). For that purpose this Court must
"read the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party," although it "is not required to draw unreasonable
inferences from the evidence" (St. Louis N. Joint Venture v. P &
L Enters., Inc., 116 F.3d 262, 265 n. 2 (7th Cir. 1997)). While
"this general standard is applied with added rigor in employment
discrimination cases, where intent is inevitably the central
issue" (McCoy v. WGN Continental Broad. Co., 957 F.2d 368,
370-71 (7th Cir. 1992)), that does not negate the potential for
summary judgment in cases where a movant plainly satisfies the
Rule 56 standards (Washington v. Lake County, 969 F.2d 250, 254
(7th Cir. 1992)). In those terms summary judgment is appropriate
if the record reveals that no reasonable jury could conclude that
Korzeniowski was treated in a statutorily prohibited
discriminatory fashion (see Fuka v. Thomson Consumer Elecs.,
82 F.3d 1397, 1402 (7th Cir. 1996) and cases cited there).
As with every summary judgment motion, this Court accepts
nonmovant Korzeniowski's version of any disputed facts. What
follows in the Facts section (and in later factual discussion)
is culled from the parties' submissions, with any differences
between them resolved in Korzeniowski's favor. Other relevant
facts, which fit somewhat better into the substantive legal
discussion, will be set out later in this opinion.
Korzeniowski worked as a linehaul supervisor for freight
carrier ABF from September 25, 1995 until he was fired on August
6, 1997 (A.12(M) ¶ 4). Before his discharge Korzeniowski took a
medical leave of absence from October 28, 1996 to January 27,
1997 to undergo leg surgery on a blocked femoral artery (id. ¶
17). When he returned to work (without any restrictions), his
ability to act as a linehaul supervisor was unaffected (id. ¶
18). At the same time, Korzeniowski still had cardiovascular
heart disease and high blood pressure, for which he took
medication, and he has experienced some dizziness and some leg
pain (K.12(N) ¶ 19).
On June 16, 1997 Korzeniowski saw his cardiologist, Dr.
Surendra Avula. Korzeniowski testified that Dr. Avula then
advised him to maintain a "set schedule" so as faithfully to
follow his diet and medication schedule (A.12(M) ¶ 20). But
neither Dr. Avula nor any other doctor has then or ever placed
Korzeniowski under any work-related medical restrictions (id. ¶
After Dr. Avula advised Korzeniowski to maintain a set
schedule, Korzeniowski asked Manager of Linehaul Operations Mike
Brinker ("Brinker") to remove him from the rotating shift
schedule. Brinker complied with Korzeniowski's request, placing
him on his preferred day-shift-only schedule,*fn3 despite the
fact that Korzeniowski never provided any medical documentation
of his need to work a non-rotating schedule (id. ¶¶ 23-25).
On August 6, 1997 linehaul supervisor Jim Fisher ("Fisher")
missed his road side day shift due to a family emergency (id. ¶
27). To solve the scheduling problem, Brinker had called
Korzeniowski the evening before to ask if he would work the night
shift. When Korzeniowski said he preferred not to, Brinker kept
him on the day shift but assigned him to the road side position
instead of his normal shuttle side position. Brinker based that
decision on the fact that Korzeniowski had previously worked as a
road side linehaul manager for ABF, while the other linehaul
supervisor available that day was new and had no road side
dispatching experience (id. ¶ 29).
At about 5:00 a.m. August 6, Brinker called shuttle linehaul
supervisor Douglas Allen ("Allen") and asked him to tell
Korzeniowski about his assignment and to tell him that Brinker
would be in early to help him work road side (id. ¶ 30).
Korzeniowski arrived shortly after that call, and Allen told him
of his change in assignment (id. ¶ 31). According to ABF,
Korzeniowski became upset and said that he was not going to work
the road side shift (id. ¶ 32). However, Korzeniowski says (and
this Court therefore credits) that he never told anyone he would
not work the road side position (K.12(N) ¶ 32).
Mayberry testified that he did not believe Korzeniowski was
sick, but that he left work because he was angry about being
assigned to the road side. Those beliefs were based in part on an
earlier conversation when Korzeniowski told Mayberry that he
would quit if ABF ever assigned him to work road side again.
Mayberry also testified that Korzeniowski did not appear ill and
did not say why he felt sick (A.12(M) ¶ 34).*fn4 In fact
Korzeniowski never told anyone at ABF that he was having chest
pains or that he was leaving to go to the hospital, nor did he
call an ambulance or ask anyone to drive him to the hospital
(id. ¶ 35).
When Brinker arrived at ABF at 7:15 a.m., Mayberry told him
that Korzeniowski had left work after becoming upset about his
assignment. Mayberry also informed Brinker that Korzeniowski
claimed to feel ill, but that Mayberry did not believe him (id.
¶ 39). Brinker then called Allen at home to investigate further.
Allen told him that Korzeniowski was very upset about being
assigned to road side, so that he refused to fill that position
and then left work (id. ¶ 40). As noted earlier, Korzeniowski
contests that version of events — and in that respect this
opinion credits the ABF people's account of their conversations,
though it does not credit their characterization of
Korzeniowski's reason for leaving (which is what he really
Brinker testified that he believed Korzeniowski's actions
constituted job abandonment. He called Director of Transportation
Columbus Dalmut ("Dalmut") and Director of Personnel Dan Griesse
("Griesse"), both of whom agreed that Korzeniowski should be
fired for job abandonment (id. ¶¶ 41-45).
After the decision to terminate Korzeniowski had been made,
Korzeniowski's wife called Brinker and said her husband was in
the emergency room with chest pains. Brinker, Dalmut and Griesse
testified that the information did not change their belief that
Korzeniowski had abandoned his job. They felt he was simply
trying to cover up his decision to abandon his job (id. ¶¶
47-48). On August 7, 1997 Brinker sent Korzeniowski a letter
stating that his employment had been terminated for job
abandonment (id. ¶ 49).