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MOSKERC v. AMERICAN AIRLINES INC.

May 10, 2004.

LOUIS M. MOSKERC, Plaintiff
v.
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant American Airlines' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff Louis Moskerc ("Moskerc") is currently an American Airlines ("American") employee working as a Customer Service Manager ("CSM") at O'Hare airport. Moskerc began working for American in 1967 and in 1994 he was promoted to the Passenger Services CSM position ("original CSM position"). In October of 1998 Moskerc suffered a back injury at work which required surgery to remedy. Moskerc received nearly seventeen months of medical leave and in March of 2001 Moskerc's doctor authorized him to return to work with a permanent lifting restriction, prohibiting lifting, pulling, or pushing anything exceeding 50-60 pounds.

  In March of 2001, when Moskerc returned to work, American's written job description for the CSM position required the employee to lift 100 pounds. Based upon the lifting restrictions indicated by Moskerc's doctor, American did not return him to a CSM position. American conducted an internal search of available openings. American also allowed Moskerc to apply to employers other than American and to continue to receive benefits from American. American also assigned Moskerc a human resources representative to assist him in his job search for other available positions,

  Moskerc expressed interest in a Fueling CSM position. American claims that the; Fueling CSM position was subject to the same job description as Moskerc's previous CSM position requiring lifting up to 100 pounds. Based on this lifting requirement, American stated that it could not consider Moskerc for the Fueling CSM position.

  Moskerc later expressed interest in the Lost Time CSM position. American claims that the Lost Time CSM position requires extensive financial analysis and strong computer skills. The Lost Time CSM position calls for mining through data using various software packages, including Excel to generate various reports and presentations for upper-level management. Although interested in the position, Moskerc failed to complete the required interview test. American ultimately hired another candidate for the Lost Time CSM position. Moskerc also expressed interest in an Analyst Manpower position. American alleges that this position requires even greater computer skills, together with expertise in budgeting and cost analysis. However, Moskerc never applied for this position and American offered the position to another candidate.

  During this time Moskerc requested an accommodation review from American's Accommodation Review Board ("ARB"). The ARB is an advisory panel made up of employees representing various sections of American's workforce, including American's medical, human resources, operations, and legal departments. American claims that the ARB's general function is to consider employee requests for accommodation and any employee may submit a request for an accommodation. Moskerc submitted a request to the ARB asking to return to his CSM position despite his lifting restriction.

  In order to evaluate Moskerc's request, American hired a professional ergonomist to conduct a full-scale analysis of Moskerc's original CSM position. The ergonomist prepared a draft report and presented her findings to American in December of 2001. Following a review of the report and discussion with operations, American adopted the ergonomist's findings and modified the original CSM position lifting requirements to 55 pounds, effective July 15, 2002. American returned Moskerc to his original CSM position one week later on July 22, 2002. On January 28, 2002, Moskerc filed his civil complaint with this court alleging a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Moskerc also asserts a state law claim for breach of contract.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must identify "those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations or denials in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R. Civ. P, 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists 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 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

  DISCUSSION

 I. ADA Claims

  The ADA prohibits covered entities, including private employers, from discriminating against a qualified individual because of his disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). Specifically, the ADA provides "[n]o covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment." Id. Under the ADA an individual has a disability if: 1) he suffers from a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or ...


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