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Mapp v. Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508

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

August 25, 2016

CHARLES MAPP, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT NO. 508 d/b/a CITY COLLEGES OF CHICAGO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MILTON I. SHADUR SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Charles Mapp ("Mapp") has sued Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508 (commonly referred to, and referred to here, by the institutional name "City Colleges"), charging it with disability discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("the Act, " 42 U.S.C. § 12132 et seq.)[1]. Now before this Court for decision is City Colleges' motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56.

         Summary Judgment Standards

         Every Rule 56 movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). For that purpose courts consider the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to nonmovants and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor (Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002)). Courts "may not make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence, or decide which inferences to draw from the facts" in resolving motions for summary judgment (Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003)). But a nonmovant must produce more than "a mere scintilla of evidence" to support the position that a genuine issue of material fact exists (Wheeler v. Lawson, 539 F.3d 629, 634 (7th Cir. 2008)) and "must come forward with specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial" (id.). Ultimately summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant (Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         Background[2]

         Mapp is a legally blind student enrolled at City Colleges (C. St. ¶¶ 1-2). To accommodate his disability, City Colleges provided Mapp with a classroom assistant as well as a note-taker and transcriber (C. St. ¶ 7). At the start of the Spring 2015 semester Mapp enrolled in a class titled "Math 98" that was taught by Professor Williams, and a note-taker was assigned to assist Mapp in the class (C. St. ¶ 10). Mapp attended the first and second day of the class and did not experience any difficulty, and he states that he believed he had everything he needed to complete the class in the way of accommodation (C. St. ¶¶ 11, 15).

         On the second day of class Williams asked Mapp whether he could see the board and whether he could read braille, to which Mapp replied he could see only shadows and silhouettes and could read braille "a little bit" (M. Dep. 75). What followed in the conversation is unclear. According to Mapp, Williams said, "I don't think you're going to be able to complete the class" (M. St. ¶ 12). Although City Colleges' Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts (Dkt. No. 47) does not dispute that, Williams testified in his deposition that he made no such comment (RW Dep. 26: 12-15). Instead Williams contends that he did not indicate to Mapp that it would be difficult for him to take the class, that he "was concerned about what resources [Mapp] would have, " that his own wife had "finished medical school blind" and that he "knew the resources that [his] wife had when she was in medical school" (RW Dep. 26: 12-15; C. St. ¶ 13). Such disparities between (1) a party's response (or in this instance nonresponse) to an adversary's Statement of Material Facts and (2) the testimony of one of its witnesses are highly unusual.

         Indeed, research has not uncovered a direct parallel, but LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) requires the party opposing a movant for summary judgment to file:

a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon . . .

         Here the statement that Mapp attributes to Williams is set out in that response (M. St. ¶ 12) and was not addressed at all in City College's Dkt. No. 47 response (the final filing in the parties' exchange as to facts). That nonresponse by one party is the kind of thing that typically renders the other party's assertion a disputed issue of material fact (see, e.g., such cases as Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 218-19 (7th Cir. 2015)).

         That however is an issue that need not be resolved, because this Court is not required to discern the exact words of the conversation in order to decide whether a question of material fact exists. Another witness, Mapp's note-taker Cole, testified that "[Williams] said he wasn't sure how [Mapp] was going to be able to handle that class because he had a wife that was blind, and he knows how difficult it can be" (VC Dep. 12:12-19). But in all events it is agreed by the parties that Mapp believed Williams did not think he could complete the class (C. St. ¶ 14).

         Mapp then approached an advisor at Malcolm X College -- a Mrs. Gibson (M. St. ¶ 22). Mapp asserts that on hearing Williams' comment Mrs. Gibson said "that she was not surprised" and that "previous students had complained about [Williams]." (M. St. ¶ 23). According to Mapp, Mrs. Gibson tried but was unable to help him enroll in Math 98 with a different teacher (CM Dep. 88: 12-17). Mapp then dropped Math 98 from his schedule and enrolled in a different and unrelated class (C. St. ¶ 12). In the fall of 2015 Mapp reenrolled in and passed Math 98 at Harold Washington College, one of the seven other City Colleges (CM Dep. 122: 17-20; C. St. ¶ 18). In the interim summer semester he took a course called "Math Level Up, " during which he adjusted to a new way of learning math without his eyesight (C. St. ¶¶ 17-19).

         Disability ...


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