Name of Assigned Judge or Magistrate Judge Matthew F. Kennelly
Sitting Judge if Other than Assigned Judge
For the reasons stated below, the Court denies defendant's motion for summary judgment [docket no. 28]. The case is set for a status hearing on July 28, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. for the purpose of setting a trial date.
O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
Ryan Lougheed has sued the Village of Mundelein under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., for terminating him based on a perceived disability. The Village has moved for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court denies the motion.
On February 6, 2006, the Village hired Lougheed as a patrol officer with the police department. Lougheed was a probationary employee who could be terminated for any non-discriminatory reason. The employment application process required Lougheed to complete a medical examination report, in which he indicated that he had not seen a physician, surgeon or other practitioner in the past seven years. He also indicated that he did not have vision defects.
On or about April 11, 2006, Lougheed's field training officer, Officer Bryan Kisselberg, observed that during the night shift, Lougheed had trouble seeing the keys on the mobile data terminal's (MDT) keyboard in his vehicle as well as difficulty seeing numbers and letters on license plates. Kisselberg informed Lougheed that he may need glasses and suggested he get his eyes checked.
On April 25, 2006, an optometrist determined that Lougheed had 20/20 daylight vision but was unable to examine his night vision. The optometrist referred Lougheed to Bryan Traubert, M.D., an ophthalmologist. On May 8, 2006, Dr. Traubert examined Lougheed but could not assess his night vision. Dr. Traubert indicated in a doctor's note that Lougheed had night vision problems and that he was in the process of establishing a diagnosis. The note also stated that Lougheed "should avoid night driving until [they] establish a diagnosis." Def.'s Ex. G. That same evening, Lougheed worked the night shift. On May 9, 2006, at approximately 5:40 a.m., Lougheed gave the doctor's note to his supervisor, Sergeant John Monahan. Because of the note, Monahan immediately placed Lougheed on unpaid medical leave and told him that he needed to submit a medical release signed by a doctor to return to work.
On or about May 12, 2006, Officer Cameron Eugenis learned that contrary to what Lougheed had indicated on his medical form, he had visited an optometrist and was prescribed glasses while working for the police department in Traverse City, Michigan. Soon thereafter, in a letter dated May 18, 2006, Chief Raymond Rose informed Dr. Traubert that "police officers must be able to respond in dark buildings" and that by May 23, 2006, he needed to know "when . . . Lougheed can be expected to return to full unrestricted duty." Pl.'s Ex. I. On May 19, 2006, Lougheed informed Eugenis that tests performed on May 17 were inconclusive and that he had another exam scheduled for May 23, 2006. Lougheed informed Eugenis that those results could take another week or more. On May 22, 2006, Rose provided Lougheed with an order of termination.
A plaintiff is disabled under the ADA if he is "regarded" as having "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual." 42 U.S.C. § 12102 (1). The term "major life activities" is defined as "functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working." Id. at (2)(A). "A 'regarded as' claim turns on the employer's perception of the employee" as disabled. Capobianco v. City of New York, 422 F.3d 47, 57 (2d Cir. 2005); see also Brunker v. Schwan's Home Serv., Inc., 583 F.3d 1004, 1008 (7th Cir. 2009).
Lougheed claims that the Village believed that his alleged nighttime vision difficulties substantially limited his ability to see and work. Similarly, Capobianco involved a plaintiff who lost his job as a sanitation worker because he suffered from night blindness. In the district court, the plaintiff argued that his night blindness substantially limited his major life activities of seeing and working. Capobianco, 422 F.3d at 58-59. On appeal, the court determined that ...