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Braddock v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

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

February 28, 2017

CALVIN BRADDOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Robert Blakey, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Calvin Braddock (“Plaintiff”) is a former employee at Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc. (“Defendant” or “UPS”). Plaintiff alleges that in October 2011, he was diagnosed with Reynaud's Disease, a circulatory disorder that causes the arteries to undergo exaggerated constriction in response to cold temperatures, limiting blood flow to the affected areas. Plaintiff further alleges that he requested a reasonable accommodation for his condition from Defendant around November 2012, which Defendant failed to provide. Plaintiff's sole remaining claim sounds in failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.[1] Defendant moved for summary judgment, and, for the reasons explained below, that motion [72] is granted.

         I. Background[2]

         Plaintiff began working for UPS as a Data Capture Clerk (“Data Clerk”) in November 2000. [74] at 3. Plaintiff's Data Clerk position is, and has always been, located in the Air Dock of Defendant's Jefferson Street facility in Chicago, Illinois. Id. at 4. The Air Dock is a large building with 26 loading dock doors that open directly to the outside air throughout the day. [78] at 3. Plaintiff testified that these doors are open “constantly, ” throughout his “entire shift.” [74] at 2. Trucks park at these loading dock doors to deliver and receive UPS packages. Id. Plaintiff's work station was located within 50 feet of the loading dock doors near several conveyor belts, which are used to move incoming and outgoing packages throughout the day. Id. at 6. Plaintiff's job was to retrieve packages from those conveyor belts, examine them, and process information relating to the packages on the computer at his work station. Id. at 4.

         The temperature in the Air Dock fluctuates, but it most often resembles the temperature outside. Id. at 3-4. During the winter months, the thermostat in the Air Dock is set to 45 degrees. Id. at 5. Once the temperature in the Air Dock reaches 45 degrees, four industrial heaters automatically adjust to maintain that temperature. Id. at 4-5. In light of these conditions, the written job description for Plaintiff's position explicitly identifies the ability to work in “variable temperatures, ” including “inclement weather, ” as an essential job function. [75] Ex. A.

         Plaintiff was diagnosed with Reynaud's Disease by Dr. Irvin Weisman (“Dr. Weisman”) around October 2011. [74] at 5. Reynaud's Disease is a circulatory disorder that causes the arteries to undergo exaggerated constriction in response to cold temperatures, limiting blood flow to the affected areas. Id. At that time, Dr. Weisman also issued a permanent medical restriction limiting Plaintiff from working in temperatures below 68 degrees. Id. at 6. In November 2012, Plaintiff's symptoms flared up, and he asked UPS to increase the temperature in the Air Dock. Id. at 7. Although Plaintiff did not use the word “accommodation” or invoke the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically, UPS treated his complaint as a request for accommodation under the ADA. Id.

         On November 27, 2012, UPS sent Plaintiff a letter regarding the ADA process and an ADA packet, which was to be completed by a physician. [78] at 13. At this point, the most recent medical documents UPS had regarding Plaintiff's medical condition were from January 2012. Id. Plaintiff, in contravention of UPS's request, completed the ADA packet himself and returned it to UPS. Id. at 14.

         Plaintiff attended a “checklist meeting” on January 20, 2013, at which time he requested that UPS adjust the Air Dock's thermostat to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees. Id. at 15. He proposed no other accommodations during the ADA resolution process. Id. UPS nevertheless searched for alternative jobs for Plaintiff in an area of the Jefferson Street Facility that remained above 68 degrees at all times. [74] at 11. This search was unsuccessful, and Plaintiff has not returned to work since 2012.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Spurling v. C & M Fine Pack, Inc., 739 F.3d 1055, 1060 (7th Cir. 2014). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See CTL ex rel. Trebatoski v. Ashland School Dist., 743 F.3d 524, 528 (7th Cir. 2014).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff's sole remaining claim is failure to accommodate under the ADA, which requires an employer to provide “reasonable accommodations” to the known physical limitations of an “otherwise qualified individual with a disability.” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). The parties agree that Plaintiff is disabled under the ADA.

         A. Plaintiff Has Not Defaulted On His Claim

         Defendant first argues that when Plaintiff failed to return his ADA packet with information from his doctor, he defaulted on his failure to accommodate claim because he failed to participate in ...


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