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Reese v. Potter

April 17, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge


AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge

In her Complaint, Plaintiff Keionna Reese alleges that her former employer, the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), discriminated against her based on her sex and disability in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. Before the Court is the USPS' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b).*fn1 For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's motion.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 Statements

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). The parties' statements must contain short numbered paragraphs including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials. See id.; see also Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817. In essence, the purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006).

A litigant's failure to respond to a Local Rule 56.1 statement results in the Court admitting the uncontroverted statement as true. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006). The Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C. 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005); Brasic v. Heinemann's Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1997). Finally, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Sexual Harassment Allegations

In October 2000, Plaintiff Keionna Reese began working as a part-time letter carrier at the post office in Wheeling, Illinois. (R. 70-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 10; R. 71-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 7.) Prior to working at the Wheeling post office, Reese served in temporary positions at a different post office facility. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 10.) In December 2001 or January 2002, Reese complained to Antonette Jones, the postmaster of the Wheeling post office, that Ted Feggins, a window clerk at the Wheeling facility, sexually harassed her during an off-work confrontation.*fn2 (Id. ¶ 11.) Jones immediately advised Reese to file a police report, and then placed Feggins on a paid suspension pending an internal investigation. (Id. ¶ 12.) After Jones contacted the Postal Inspection Service, she also conducted interviews with several employees to ascertain if there had been any previous issues with Feggins. (Id. ¶ 14.) The Postal Inspection Service conducted an independent investigation, but was unable to confirm whether Reese's allegations were valid. (Id. ¶ 15.)

Meanwhile, Jones instructed Feggins to stay away from Reese when he returned to work after his suspension. (Id. ¶ 16.) For the most part, Reese and Feggins did not work in the same area at the Wheeling post office -- Feggins worked inside the building as a window clerk and Reese worked outside delivering mail. (Id. ¶ 17.) Jones further limited the contact between Feggins and Reese by allowing Reese to turn in her accountable items, such as certified mail, to a supervisor rather than the accountable clerk on the occasions when Feggins acted as back-up clerk. (Id. ¶ 18.) Although Reese filed a police report concerning Feggins' conduct, she never initiated an administrative complaint of discrimination based on Feggins' alleged sexual harassment. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 19; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 14.) Moreover, the police never charged Feggins with a crime. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 13.)

B. Reese's Injury and Workers Compensation Claim

On September 16, 2004, Reese filed a claim for workers compensation benefits after she reported that her postal vehicle was struck by a truck while she was making a delivery. (Id. ¶ 25.) On September, 20, 2004, Reese obtained a note from Dr. David Cavazos, a chiropractor, indicating that Reese was "temporarily totally disabled for one to two weeks." (Id. ¶ 26.) Three days later, Dr. Callahan, Reese's family physician, examined her and prescribed "strict bed rest." (Id. ¶ 27.)

Thereafter, the USPS' Injury Compensation Office initiated an investigation into Reese's injury compensation claim. (Id. ¶ 28.) On September 29, 2004, postal service inspectors observed Reese standing on the front porch of her residence, walking down steps, and driving away from her home at approximately 1:00 p.m. and returning at approximately 3:00 p.m. (Id. ¶ 29.) Meanwhile, on September 30, 2004, Dr. Callahan re-examined Reese and -- pursuant to the OWCP disability claim Form CA-17 -- Dr. Callahan indicated that Reese was suffering from upper and lower back pain and soft tissue muscle spasms in her right arm and neck and advised Reese not to return to work. (Id. ¶ 30; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 36.) The Form CA-17 further indicated that Reese was incapable of standing, walking, bending, stooping, climbing, simple grasping, or driving a vehicle. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 30.) Also on September 30, 2004, Dr. Callahan responded to a letter dated September 28, 2004, ...

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