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KOSHKO v. GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY

March 20, 2003

GARY KOSHKO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Gettleman, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Gary Koshko ("plaintiff) has filed a single-count complaint against General Electric Co. ("defendant"), alleging that defendant deprived him of the fights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. by failing to accommodate his alleged disability. Defendant has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons explained below, defendant's motion is granted.

FACTS

During 1998, plaintiff began to experience severe mood swings and feelings of anger that, he admits, were grossly out of proportion to any provocation or precipitating factors, During September 1999, plaintiff's surges of anger culminated in an episode at his place of employment, which was a Bridgeview, Illinois, facility owned by defendant, During this episode, plaintiff yelled and used swear words. The episode ended when plaintiff tripped and fell to the floor. Neither plaintiff nor anyone else was physically injured. Following this incident, plaintiffs manager, John Shields ("Shields"). suggested that plaintiff apply for short-term disability medical leave, and Shields later approved plaintiff's application. Plaintiff consulted his primary care physician, who referred him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Ivanoff ("Ivanoff"). On October 6, 1999, Ivanoff began treating plaintiff with a combination of drugs and therapy. Ivanoff diagnosed plaintiff as having a mental disorder described as intermittent explosive disorder ("IED").

IED is characterized by a failure to resist aggressive impulses that result in serious assaultive acts or destniction of property. The degree of aggressiveness expressed during an episode is grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial factors.

Ivanoff authorized plaintiff's return to work, except for overtime, during December 1999. Plaintiff then was directed by defendant to consult with defendant's doctor. Plaintiff did so. Thereafter, plaintiff returned to work.

On February 3, 2000, plaintiff was summoned by Bob Watson ("Watson"), defendant's national lighting manager of its North America Operation, to a supervisor's office at the Bridgeview facility. Also attending the meeting were Johnny Walker ("Walker"), assistant manager at the Bridgeview facility, Shields, who also was manager of the Bridgeview facility, and Todd Matson ("Matson"), a management trainee. Plaintiff's immediate supervisor was not present at this meeting. Plaintiff alleges that Watson confronted him in a disdainful and insulting manner and upbraided him, critiqued his work product and stated that plaintiff should be working overtime, Plaintiff further alleges that Watson proceeded to slam his fist down on the desktop where he was sitting.

After this meeting, plaintiff returned to his work table, became angry, began cursing and threatened to kill Watson. During this episode, plaintiff punched the air with his fists and slapped his hand on the tabletop, causing his hand to start bleeding. He then shadow-boxed an imaginary Watson, knocked him to the ground and told him to "stay down, stay down." Plaintiff allegedly proclaimed that if he killed Watson, he would get off by pleading insanity. Plaintiff then asked aloud if anyone knew what hotel Watson was staying at that night. Plaintiff then went to a nearby bathroom and wrapped his bloody hand in a paper towel. When plaintiff returned to his work area and walked by the desk of his work leader, Greg Murphy ("Murphy"), he crumpled up the bloody paper towel, threw it toward Murphy onto his desk and told Murphy to tell Watson that he was "bleeding for him." Plaintiff's coworkers were in the vicinity of his work table at the time of this episode and reported plaintiff's outburst to management. No one, other than plaintiff, was physically injured.

On February 4, 2000, plaintiff was turned away from. work and served with a notice that he was suspended without pay as a result of his conduct. On February 25, 2000, plaintiff received a letter terminating his employment for violating the company's "rules of conduct."

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

A movant is entitled to summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 when the moving papers and affidavits show there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Unterreiner v. Volkswagen of America, Inc., 8 F.3d 1206, 1209 (7th Cir. 1993). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cit. 1990). The nonmoving party "mast do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Go.. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmoving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [nonmoving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. As always, the court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Miller v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 203 F.3d 997, 1003 (7th Cir. 2000); Fisher v. Transco Services-Milwaukee, Inc., 979 F.2d 1239, 1242 (7th Cir. 1992).

II. ADA Claim

To recover for a violation of the ADA, plaintiff bears the burden of proving that he is a qualified individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job. 42 U.S.C. ยง 12112 (a). Defendant argues that: (1) plaintiff is not disabled under the ADA; (2) even if plaintiff were disabled, plaintiff is not a "qualified individual" because he is prone to violent outbursts in the workplace; and (3) there is no ...


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