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Moore-Fotso v. Board of Education of City of Chicago

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

May 8, 2017




         Before the Court is Plaintiff Dorothy Moore-Fotso's motion for reconsideration [109; 118] of this Court's decision [107] to grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment [99]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration [109; 118] is denied.[1]

         I. Background

         The facts of this case are set out more extensively in the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order [107] granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment [99]. See also Moore-Fotso v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chi., 2016 WL 5476235, at *2-7 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 29, 2016).

         As a brief recap, Plaintiff suffers from multiple chronic medical conditions that impact her ability to stand or sit for extended periods of time, use stairs, or be confined to rooms with carpeting or dust. Plaintiff also worked as a teacher at various Chicago schools between 2005 and 2012, and requested that Defendant accommodate her disabilities pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Most of those accommodations were granted. In particular, Plaintiff was given dictation software, a printer, a scanner, two types of projectors, a HP compact business notebook, an ergonomic roller mouse and mouse station, toner cartridges, whiteboards, a task chair, air purifiers with filters in each of her classrooms, filing cabinets, and access to the school's elevator. She was also granted leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to be absent up to four days each month. One requested accommodation that Plaintiff did not receive, however, was the ability to teach from a single classroom on the first floor of her school.

         Plaintiff requested the one-room accommodation at the start of the 2009-2010 school year. The prior year, Plaintiff had been chronically absent and tardy, and received repeated warnings about her attendance. Her attendance problems (and disciplinary actions for those problems) continued into the 2009-2010 school year. Moreover, Plaintiff fared poorly during her annual performance review that year. She arrived late to class, failed to provide a lesson plan or establish a positive learning environment for students, and was involved in a confrontation with another teacher. Similar observations were noted when another school administrator evaluated her classroom performance. At the end of that school year, Plaintiff received an “unsatisfactory” rating, and pursuant to a city-wide policy governing teacher layoffs, Plaintiff was terminated.

         For the next school year, Plaintiff was placed in Chicago's Reassigned Teacher Pool. She was unable to secure permanent employment during her ten-month RTP assignment, and was then assigned to work as a Cadre substitute-teachers who move from school to school to cover temporary vacancies. Between September and November 2011, Plaintiff worked briefly at two schools. She renewed her request to work from a single classroom, but this accommodation was not provided. Furthermore, one of these schools hired two math teachers during the time that Plaintiff worked as a Cadre substitute, but Plaintiff was not hired for either position. These positions also required the teacher to work from multiple classrooms. Plaintiff's Cadre status ended in August 2012, and she has since worked as a day-to-day substitute teacher.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated the ADA by failing to provide reasonable accommodations for her disability, discriminating against her because of her disability, and retaliating against her because she had filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Defendant moved for summary judgment, which the Court granted [107]. First, the Court found that Plaintiff was not a “qualified individual with a disability” because her excessive absences and tardiness meant that she could not perform the “essential functions” of her job. As a result, her failure to accommodate and discrimination claims could not survive. Second, even if Plaintiff was a qualified individual with a disability, a reasonable jury could not find that Defendant failed to engage in an interactive process with Plaintiff over her accommodations, that a single classroom was a reasonable accommodation when she became a Cadre substitute, or that the ADA required her to be hired as a full-time math teacher. Third, Plaintiff had failed to present a triable issue of fact that any of seven adverse employment actions that she experienced was because of her disability. Finally, Plaintiff could not show that the five employment actions allegedly taken in retaliation were adverse or that there was a causal connection between the filing of the EEOC charges and the employment action. Accordingly, the Court granted the motion and entered judgment in Defendant's favor. [See 107.]

         Following the entry of judgment, Plaintiff filed several motions [109; 118], which the Court construed as requesting reconsideration of the Court's decision [see 114, 120].[2]

         II. Legal Standard

         “A motion to alter or amend a judgment is only proper when ‘the movant presents newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of trial or if the movant points to evidence in the record that clearly establishes a manifest error of law or fact.'” Burritt v. Ditlefsen, 807 F.3d 239, 252-53 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Matter of Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996)). “A ‘manifest error' is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party. It is the ‘wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.'” Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (quoting Sedrak v. Callahan, 987 F.Supp. 1063, 1069 (N.D. Ill. 1997)). A motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 59(e) should be used only when “the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension.” Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990). Rule 59(e) motions are “not appropriately used to advance arguments or theories that could and should have been made before the district court rendered a judgment, or to present evidence that was available earlier.” Miller v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., 683 F.3d 805, 813 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         III. Analysis

         In seeking reconsideration, Plaintiff does not present newly discovered evidence or claim that the Court disregarded or failed to recognize controlling precedent. Instead, she advances one new factual claim that she asserts should have been considered by the Court, and several other arguments that largely mirror ones that she advanced in opposition to summary judgment. The Court starts with Plaintiff's new factual claim.

         Plaintiff contends that her attorney erroneously failed to deny Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Fact 21 [92, ¶ 21], which concerns her May 13, 2010 annual performance review conducted by George Henry Corliss High ...

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