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Shell v. Smith

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 15, 2015

MARC SHELL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
KEVIN SMITH, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Anderson, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued March 31, 2015.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 1:13-CV-583 -- Jane E. Magnus-Stinson, Judge.

For Marc Shell, Plaintiff - Appellant: Jeffrey A. Macey, Attorney, Macey Swanson & Allman, Indianapolis, IN.

For KEVIN SMITH, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Anderson, City of Anderson, Indiana, Defendants - Appellees : Anthony W. Overholt, Attorney, Frost Brown Todd LLC, Indianapolis, IN.

Before KANNE and ROVNER, Circuit Judges, and SPRINGMANN, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 716

Theresa L. Springmann, District Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant Marc Shell worked for the City of Anderson Transit System (CATS) as a Mechanic's Helper on the day shift. According to the job description for the position, a Mechanic's Helper may occasionally drive buses to field locations. A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is required to drive the CATS buses. Shell's hearing and vision impairments prevent him from obtaining a CDL. Nevertheless, he worked for twelve years in the position without a CDL and without driving a bus. When general manager Stephon Blackwell was appointed at CATS as part of personnel changes made by the new mayor, he informed Shell that his employment would be terminated unless he obtained a CDL, as the job description required it. When Shell did not get his CDL, Blackwell terminated his employment.

After he was fired, Shell sued the City under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failure to accommodate his disability, leading to the termination of his employment. He also alleged that his termination was politically motivated. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City.

On appeal, Shell challenges only the district court's entry of judgment as a matter of law on his ADA claim. We agree that a jury should decide whether the City violated the ADA.

The ADA provides that a covered employer shall not " discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). " Discrimination," for the purposes of § 12112(a), includes " not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability" unless the employer " can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). To establish a claim for failure to accommodate, a plaintiff must show that he is a " qualified individual with a disability." EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 417 F.3d 789, 797 (7th Cir. 2005). A qualified individual is defined as " an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position." 42 U.S.C. § 12111(8).

The issue on appeal is whether the record contains sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that driving a bus was not an essential function of Shell's job as a Mechanic's Helper. In deciding this question, we review the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Bay v. Cassens Transp. Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir.

Page 717

2000). Summary judgment is appropriate where the admissible evidence shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Lawson v. CSX Transp., Inc., 245 F.3d 916, 922 (7th Cir. 2001). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, we view the record in the light most favorable to the ...


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