The opinion of the court was delivered by: Castillo, District Judge.
Pasquale Puoci sued the City of Chicago for discrimination under the
Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
The City of Chicago has filed a motion for summary judgment, which we
grant for the reasons stated below.
The following facts are not in dispute or are construed in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Puoci first became employed by the City
in the Streets and Sanitation Department in 1985. In May 1997, he became
a hoisting engineer, a position he still holds. In August 1997, Puoci was
assigned to work on a piece of equipment known as an Orange Peel. The
Orange Peel requires the operator to climb on and off the machine at
least fourteen times per day. In the fall of 1997, Puoci began to
experience numbness in his right leg and thigh due to cold weather. Due
to the numbness and leg fatigue, Puoci uses a stool every day on the
job. In addition, Puoci walks with a limp, has pain when he walks,
especially on soft surfaces, and has difficulty climbing stairs. Puoci
visited his doctor, Dr. John Schneider, concerning these problems. Dr.
Schneider diagnosed Puoci with post polio syndrome and referred Puoci' to
Dr. Raymond Roos, a neurologist. Although Dr. Roos did not agree with
Dr. Schneider's diagnosis of post polio syndrome, both doctors agree that
the label "post polio syndrome" is unimportant regarding Puoci's
treatment. Notwithstanding the physical problems Puoci complains of, he
maintains that he can perform all the duties related to his assignment to
the Orange Peel and all the duties of a hoisting engineer. (R. 23, Def.'s
Statement of Material Facts, ¶ 12; see R. 26, Pl.'s Statement of
Material Facts, ¶ 12 (admitting Def.'s ¶ 12).) He also says that
he has always been able to complete all of his job duties and that he has
never been prevented from performing a duty due to pain. (Id.)
On December 31, 1997, Puoci made a written request to his superiors for
reassignment to the Yard High Lift machine, which requires an operator to
climb in and out an average of only six times per day. At the time of
Puoci's request, the Yard High Lift machine was, and still is, assigned
to another employee, Marsha Alexander. The form that Puoci used to
request reassignment was one normally used to request changes in shift,
location, and days off group; he did not know that there was an official
"Request for Reasonable Accommodation" form. In his request, Puoci
indicated that his post polio syndrome and lack of circulation made him
vulnerable to frost bite. Copies of his written request were distributed
to Deborah Robertson, superintendent of the Southern District; Touhy,
superintendent of hoisting engineers; the union steward; the Department
of Sewers head of personnel; and the Deputy Commissioner of Operations.
The City did not act upon his request until thirteen weeks later, when
Puoci's lawyer sent a follow-up letter again requesting reasonable
accommodation for Puoci. The City then asked Puoci to complete a formal
"Request for Reasonable Accommodation" form, which he did several weeks
later. Four months later, the City requested that Puoci execute medical
authorizations so that it could obtain his medical records. The City has
yet to grant or deny Puoci's request for reasonable accommodation.
Puoci is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers,
Local 150. The collective bargaining agreement between Local 150 and the
City specifies that if the employer makes a reasonable accommodation for
an employee with a disability that conflicts with another employee's
rights, the employer should bring the matter to the attention of the
union. Robertson, the official charged with this task, never spoke to a
representative of the union regarding Puoci's request for reasonable
On October 29, 1998, Puoci filed the instant action, asserting that the
City violated his rights under the ADA. Currently pending before this
Court is the City's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that
follow, the motion is granted.
Summary judgment is appropriate "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 judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue for trial exists
only when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A plaintiff
cannot rest on mere allegations, but must go beyond the pleadings and
designate specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986). The Court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's
favor. Crim v. Board of Educ. of Cairo Sch. Dist. No. 1, 147 F.3d 535,
540 (7th Cir. 1998). However, if the evidence is merely colorable, is not
significantly probative, or merely raises "some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts," summary judgment may be granted. Liberty Lobby, 477
U.S. at 261, 106 S.Ct. 2505.
II. Americans with Disabilities Act
A. Prima Facie Disability Discrimination Claim
The ADA prohibits discrimination "against a qualified individual with a
disability because of the disability of such individual."
42 U.S.C. § 12112 (a). The City argues that Puoci's ADA claim fails
because Puoci is not "disabled" as required for protection under the
ADA. A disability under the ADA is defined as "(A) a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life
activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C)
being regarded as having such an impairment." 42 U.S.C. § 12102 (2).
"Major life activities" are "functions such as caring for oneself,
performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing,
learning, and working." 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2 (i). Furthermore, a person
is "substantially limited" if he is "[u]nable to perform a major life
activity" or "[s]ignificantly restricted as to the condition, manner or
duration under which [he] can perform a particular major life activity as
compared to . . . the average person." 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2 (j)(1).
Puoci has the burden of proving that he is disabled. DeLuca v. Winer
Indus., Inc., 53 F.3d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 1995).
Determination of whether an individual has a disability is made on a
case by case basis. Albertsons, Inc. v. Kirkingburg, 527 U.S. 555, 11
S.Ct. 2162, 2169, 144 L.Ed.2d 518 (1999). The determination "is not
necessarily based on the name or diagnosis of the impairment the person
has, but rather on the effect of that impairment on the life of the
individual." 29 C.F.R. pt. 1630, App., § 1630.2(j). Puoci asserts
that he is disabled ...