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BERTINETTI v. JOY MINING MACHINERY
October 9, 2002
LARRY BERTINETTI PLAINTIFF,
JOY MINING MACHINERY, DEFENDANT
The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on the defendant's motion for
summary judgment. (Doc. 18). The plaintiff has responded (Doc. 20), and
the defendant has replied (Doc. 21). For the reasons discussed below,
the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment. Also before the
Court, is the defendant's motion for leave to file a separate statement
of facts, instanter, which will be granted (Doc. 23).
Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if
any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-23 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists "only if there is
sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a
verdict for that party." Baron v. City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333,
338 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986)). In this case, the Court must review the record in the light
most favorable to Bertinetti and draw all reasonable inferences in his
favor. See Del Raso v. United States, 244 F.3d 567, 570 (7th Cir.
The plaintiff, Larry Bertinetti, has brought this case under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, alleging that his employer, Joy Mining
Machinery (hereinafter "Joy"), failed to reasonably accommodate his
alleged disability. Joy is a supplier of underground mining systems for
the extraction of coal and other bedded materials. Joy's Mt. Vernon,
Illinois service center rebuilds and repairs mining systems. Bertinetti
was employed by Joy at the Mt. Vernon service center, primarily as a
boring mill operator. Steve Pace and Danny Bryant (who are not parties
in this case) supervised Bertinetti when he worked the boring mills.
The Mt. Vernon service center utilizes six boring mills. A boring mill
is a large machine which is generally used to repair used mining
systems. The operation of a boring mill requires the boring mill
operator to use a crane to hoist parts onto the mill, tighten bolts to
secure the part on the mill, and engage levers and push buttons to
operate the mill. To operate Joy's boring mills, the boring mill operator
may be required to use his hands, legs or feet. As a general rule, Joy's
boring mill operators may be required to operate any of Joy's six boring
mills depending upon the work to be done.
Bertinetti was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (hereinafter
"CMT") in June 1994. CMT is a hereditary condition affecting the
peripheral nervous system. CMT may affect both the lower and upper
extremities and is indicated by an atrophy of muscles. Bertinetti
testified in his deposition that CMT limits his ability to walk. He
testified that he can walk only one-hundred yards without stopping to
rest. He testified that CMT also limits his ability to walk because it
affects his balance. He testified that he can climb stairs with the
assistance of a hand rail. He testified that he lives in a two-story
home but that he stays on the first floor. He testified that he climbs
three steps from the outside ground level to the entryway of his home on
a daily basis. He testified that he can stand fifteen to twenty minutes
without resting. He testified that CMT does not limit his ability to do
yard work, to do minor household chores, to care for himself, to perform
personal hygiene, to drive, to get dressed, to lift, to reach or to
perform manual tasks. Bertinetti testified that he was able to hunt deer
and squirrel and to fish through the fall of 1999.
The effects of CMT may be mitigated through the use of corrective
shoes, leg or ankle braces, and/or a walking stick or cane. With the
exception of corrective shoes, Bertinetti has not taken any other
potentially mitigating measure.
Bertinetti first informed Joy about his limitations resulting from CMT
in 1995 via a letter from Dr. Richard Morgan. Dr. Morgan sent a letter
dated April 5, 1995, to Joy's Human Resources Director Sharon Whipple
explaining the general nature of CMT and stating that Bertinetti would
"experience muscular weakness from time to time" and that he would "need
periods of rest to prevent further strain or injury."
On or about April 1, 1998, Bertinetti provided a second letter from
Dr. Morgan to Joy Mining's Plant Manager Bill Irman. Dr. Morgan's second
letter, dated April 1, 1998, stated that Bertinetti had CMT which
necessitated the wearing of orthopedic shoes. At the time Bertinetti
presented the letter to Bill Irman, Bertinetti already wore orthopedic
shoes to work. No one ever told Bertinetti that he could not wear
orthopedic shoes to work.
On or about June 29, 1998, Bertinetti provided Pace a third letter from
Dr. Morgan, dated June 29, 1998, referencing Dr. Morgan's April 5, 1995
letter and stating that Bertinetti's condition and work considerations
were unchanged. In his deposition, Bertinetti testified that around this
time (apparently late June 1998), he was having problems operating Mill
#5 — "I was having trouble stepping up and down off the platform,
climbing on the table, operating the machines as far as gears and
levers." Bertinetti testified that he discussed the difficulty he was
having with Pace, Bertinetti's foreman at the time, but that Pace made no
response. Bertinetti testified that he did not complain to anyone else.
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