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Rosa v. City of Chicago

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

May 1, 2014

MICHAEL T. ROSA, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RONALD A. GUZMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff has sued the City of Chicago for its alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case is before the Court on the City's motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part, denies in part and strikes as moot in part the motion.

Facts

Plaintiff worked as a hoisting engineer in defendant's Department of Streets and Sanitation from July 1989 to 1997, and in 1997 he transferred to what is now called the Department of Water Management ("DWM"). (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 1.) Hoisting engineers operate heavy construction equipment to excavate and lift earth and water and sewer pipes. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Among the machines they use are orange peels, vactors, front end loaders/high lifts, back hoes, compressor/welder trucks and advance complaint trucks. ( Id. ¶ 18.) An orange peel is used to clean catch basins, and has "a crane-like mechanism on the back [with] a clamshell on the end that opens and closes and picks up debris." ( Id. ¶ 20) (quotation omitted). A vactor is "a truck device with separate motors on the back and a giant [suction] tube that... suck[s] out the rodding of the main sewer." ( Id. ¶ 23.) A front end loader or high lift is a "machine [with a high] cab [and] a giant bucket in the front." ( Id. ¶ 26.) A backhoe is a smaller version of a front end loader. ( Id. ¶ 28.) A compressor/welder truck is a truck with a flat bed to which an air compressor or welder is attached. ( Id. ¶ 30.) An advance complaint truck is like an orange peel "except [that] it has a pressurized hose for water... to clean out private drains." ( Id. ¶ 32.) (quotation omitted).

DWM has a new construction section, which installs new sewer and water pipes throughout the city, and a cleaning program, which cleans and repairs existing pipes. ( Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) From 1997 to September 2004, plaintiff worked in the cleaning program assigned to the North District Yard, where Mark LeBaron and James McKenna were his foremen. ( Id. ¶ 10.)

In January 2004, plaintiff had surgery on his left knee. ( Id. ¶ 35.) Though defendant's doctor said plaintiff could return to work without restrictions in April 2004, plaintiff says he had difficulty climbing onto the orange peel and vactor. ( Id. ¶ 46.) On May 6, 2004, plaintiff gave LeBaron and McKenna, and later their boss, Mike Breslin, a note from his own doctor that said: "[Plaintiff] is able to return to work full duty. Attempt to limit climbing, kneeling, squatting, prolonged walking, and sitting in tight compartments." ( Id. ¶¶ 48-49.)

In September 2004, plaintiff requested and received a transfer to the new construction section, which did not use orange peels or vactors. ( Id. ¶ 50.) Plaintiff worked in new construction from September 2004 to April 2005, and was assigned to a backhoe every day. (Def.'s Exs. Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 1, Rosa Dep. at 127-28.)

In April 2005, plaintiff requested and received a transfer back to the North District Yard, where he operated a backhoe for the rest of the year. ( Id. at 133; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 51.)

On February 3, 2006, plaintiff saw his doctor, whose notes state that plaintiff had been wearing a left knee brace since the 2004 surgery, and thus put all of his body weight on his right knee when he climbed onto the vactor, which caused tendonitis and pain in his right knee. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 2; id., Ex. C, Abdulmassih Dep. Ex. 4, Medical Records at C001147.)

On February 22, 27, and 28, 2006, and March 2, 2006, LeBaron told plaintiff to go home when plaintiff said he could not climb onto the vactor or orange peel. (Def.'s Exs. Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 1, Rosa Dep. at 293-97.)

Plaintiff saw his doctor on March 16, 2006, whose notes say: "The patient was given a note not to be on an a Vactor machine. His boss put him back on the Vactor machine. The patient re-injured his right knee." (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt., Ex. C, Abdulmassih Dep. Ex. 4, Medical Records at C001140.)

By April 2006, plaintiff says he was having serious problems operating vactors and orange peels because of the height or positioning of their steps and the size of their cabs. (Def.'s Exs. Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 1, Rosa Dep. at 144-45.)

On April 28, 2006, plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC, which states:

In January, 2004, I underwent surgery for [an on the job] injury and I returned to work in April 2004 with restrictions. During various periods of time since returning to work in April, 2004, the General Superintendent of my district has forced me to perform work outside of my restrictions. During these periods of time and on multiple occasions, I have requested reasonable accommodations, which have been denied. In January, 2006, I suffered another on the job injury. In February 2006, I complained to the Administrative Assistant of the Commissioner who talked to the General Superintendent. In or around March, 2006, the ...

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