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STEVENS v. NAVISTAR INTERN. TRANSP. CORP.

October 23, 2002

JOY ANN STEVENS, PLAINTIFF,
V.
NAVISTAR INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORTATION CORPORATION, DEFENDANT



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On November 26, 1999, Plaintiff Joy Ann Stevens filed this suit against Defendant Navistar International Transportation Corporation ("Navistar") claiming that Navistar violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by failing to accommodate her repetitive motion disorder. After conducting discovery, Navistar filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (R. 25-1.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

Material handlers at the West Chicago PDC work on the "packline," which involves picking parts from the warehouse to fill orders and then packing the orders for shipping. (Id. ¶ 6.) The process of picking requires an employee to drive a Taylor Dunn vehicle to a location, pick the parts, attach the picking tickets to the part, and put the parts in a large box. (Id. ¶ 7.) The material handlers fill orders according to a ticket which contains a list of the parts required for the order and the weight of each part. (Id. ¶ 11.) The packline contains approximately 40,000 different parts. (Id. ¶ 9.) Approximately 96.4% of these parts weigh less than 15 pounds, and only 35 parts weigh more than 40 pounds. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 10.)

A. Stevens' Termination

In 1978, Navistar initially hired Stevens as a material handler. (R. 25-3, 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 16.) In the Spring of 1994, Stevens began having problems with her right hand and arm, and she was subsequently diagnosed with repetitive motion disorder. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 19.) As Stevens acknowledges, she has "always been one of the lower producers" as a material handler. (Id. ¶ 16.) Because of her repetitive motion disorder, Stevens collected disability and did not work during the majority of 1995 and 1996. (Id. ¶ 21.)

On November 6, 1996, however, Navistar ordered Stevens to return to work based on a conclusion by a physician (Dr. Tulipan) that Stevens could work under a weight restriction. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27.) Stevens then returned to work, but refused to drive the Taylor Dunn based on her disorder. (Id. ¶ 28.) Navistar subsequently terminated Stevens for refusing to drive the Taylor Dunn, an essential part of her position. (Id. ¶ 29.)

B. The Arbitration

After her termination, Stevens filed a grievance with her Union and the dispute went to arbitration. (R. 25-3, 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 30, 31.) On October 30, 1997, the arbitrator determined that Navistar did not have just cause to terminate Stevens because it should not have relied on Dr. Tulipan's report concerning the extent and duration of Stevens' disorder. (Id. ¶ 31.) The arbitrator ordered Navistar to have Stevens evaluated by a "qualified specialist jointly selected" by Navistar and Stevens "to determine her ability to perform the major and essential tasks of the material handler classification." (Id. ¶ 32.) Stevens' physician and Navistar jointly selected Dr. Chang to examine Stevens in accordance with the arbitrator's order. (Id. ¶ 39.) In addition, an arbitrator ordered Navistar to pay Stevens disability for the period that she was terminated and to reimburse her for the COBRA payments she made during that period. (Id. ¶ 35.) Accordingly. Navistar paid Stevens $82,314.86. (Id. ¶ 36.)

C. Stevens' Physical Limitations

On December 8, 1998, Dr. Chang examined Stevens. (R. 25-3, 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 39.) Dr. Chang thereafter released Stevens to work with a 40 pound lifting restriction. (Id. ¶ 42.) In February 1999, Stevens returned to work under this lifting restriction. (Id. ¶ 44.) Navistar has provided Stevens with ...


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