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Johnson v. American Signature, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 26, 2014

JERALD JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN SIGNATURE, INC., d/b/a VALUE CITY FURNITURE, Defendant

For Jerald Johnson, Plaintiff: Mitchell Alan Orpett, LEAD ATTORNEY, Tribler Orpett and Meyer, P.C., Chicago, IL; Eric Franklin Long, Tribler Orpett & Meyer, P.c., Chicago, IL.

For Value City Furniture, Defendant: Charis A. Runnels, Thomas F Hurka, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Chicago, IL; Valerie E. Manos, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Llp, Chicago, IL.

For Service List, Defendant: Angela J. Rapp, PRO HAC VICE, Vorys, Sater, Seymour And Pease Llp, Cincinnati, OH.

Page 981

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Jerald Johnson (" Johnson" ) was fired after he urinated into a cup in front of a co-worker. Johnson, who claims to

Page 982

suffer from " urinary urgency" and other health problems, brings this suit against his former employer, American Signature, Inc. (" ASI" ), contending that ASI discriminated against him and failed to accommodate his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (the " ADA" ). ASI has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 55. For reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The background facts are derived principally from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 submissions and are undisputed except where noted.

ASI is a furniture dealer that operates numerous retail shops throughout the United States. On April 5, 2010, Joseph Gagne (" Gagne" ), the General Manager of an ASI store in Burbank, Illinois, hired Johnson for a position as a Home Furnishings Consultant. During his interview, Johnson informed Gagne that he experienced mobility problems relating to a previous stroke and hip replacement surgery. Johnson advised Gagne that, as a consequence of this condition, he suffered from a limp and weakness on the right side of his body that made it difficult for him to walk immediately after standing up from a seated position. Johnson also used a cane, although he did not have it with him on the day of the interview and apparently did not mention his need for one.

In addition to his mobility issues, Johnson also struggled with " urinary urgencies" that had developed following his hip replacement surgery. As a result, Johnson frequently experienced a sudden need to urinate and, at times, would have to relieve himself in a cup, which he kept in his car for occasions when he was unable to make it to a restroom while driving. Johnson did not advise Gagne of this condition during his interview.

Sometime after he began working at ASI, a co-worker told Johnson that he had overheard Gagne remark that he was " unhappy" that Johnson used a cane. The co-worker stated that Gagne had wondered aloud whether the cane would " hinder" Johnson in any way.

On June 3, 2010, Johnson was sitting in an employee break room with a co-worker named Tomas Medina (" Medina" ). As Johnson stood up to return to work, he felt a sudden and urgent need to urinate. Sensing that he would be unable to reach the restroom in time due to his decreased mobility, Johnson shuffled to a corner of the room and urinated into a cup. While making his way across the room, however, Johnson lost control and dribbled some urine onto the floor. Setting the cup of urine onto the counter, Johnson then attempted to wash the area with water and cleanser. As he was cleaning up, Johnson received a call directing him to return to the sales floor to assist a customer. Before leaving the room, he poured the excess water and cleanser down the ...


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