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Smith v. Dupage County Sheriff

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

June 5, 2017

RONALD SMITH, JASON LLOYD, DAVID KACZKOWSKI, and TERRI ALBRIGHT, Plaintiffs,
v.
DUPAGE COUNTY SHERIFF and COUNTY OF DUPAGE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs, Ronald Smith, Jason Lloyd, David Kaczkowski, and Terri Albright, filed a four-count complaint against DuPage County and the DuPage County Sheriff's Department, stemming from their employment as DuPage County Sheriff's Deputies. This Court dismissed Counts II-IV. Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment [43] on the issue of liability on Count I, arguing that there is no genuine issue of material fact on the defendants' failure to reasonably accommodate their disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq. Defendants also move for summary judgment [39]. For the reasons stated below, this Court denies both motions.

         Background

         The following facts are taken from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements of material fact. The plaintiffs are all employed as deputy sheriffs with the DuPage County Sheriff's Department. (Dkt. 48, Defs. Resp. to Pls. LR 56.1 Statement of Facts, at ¶ 1). Each plaintiff experienced some sort of work related injury.

         Plaintiff Ronald Smith injured his back while responding to a traffic incident on March 13, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 4). The injury aggravated a pre-existing back condition, and it kept him from working as a full-time patrol officer until August 27, 2014. (Dkt. 48 ¶ 5). Smith was diagnosed with sacroiliitis.[1] (Dkt. 57, Pls. Resp. to Defs. LR 56.1 Statement of Facts, at ¶ 51). Two months after Smith returned as a full-duty patrol officer, he injured his foot at work. (Dkt. 48 ¶ 6). Smith informed his supervisor that his doctor restricted him to jobs involving minimal walking. (Id.). Smith e-mailed his supervisor requesting light duty positions, but he never received a response to the request. (Id. at ¶ 8). Smith did not return as a full-duty patrol officer until September 2015. (Id. at ¶ 6).

         Plaintiff Jason Lloyd slipped on ice while responding to a traffic accident on January 10, 2014. (Id. at 10). As a result of the fall, Lloyd suffered a head and back injury, and tore the labrum in his hip. (Dkt. 48 ¶ 10; Dkt. 57 ¶ 39). Lloyd's doctors would not release him to work full duty until his labrum was surgically repaired. (Dkt. 48 ¶ 11). On May 20, 2014, Lloyd's doctor released him to work in a light duty position, and he requested work in a light duty capacity. (Dkt. 48 ¶ 11; Dkt. 57 ¶ 41). In November of 2015, Lloyd returned to work in a light duty capacity. (Dkt. 57 ¶ 40). On October 4, 2016, Lloyd returned to full-duty work as a Sheriff's patrol deputy. (Dkt. 57-3 ¶ 5).

         Plaintiff David Kaczkowski slipped on ice while on duty and suffered a back injury on March 13, 2014. (Dkt. 48 ¶ 18). On April 21, 2014, Kaczkowski's physician released him for light duty, and he made requests for a light duty assignment. (Dkt. 57 ¶ 23; Dkt. 48 ¶ 21). In November of 2015, he was assigned to a light duty position in the Warrant Call Center. (Dkt. 57 ¶ 25). On June 10, 2016, Kaczkowski returned to work as a full-duty Sheriff's patrol deputy. (Dkt. 57-1 ¶ 4).

         Plaintiff Terri Albright injured her arm and wrist on August 5, 2013 when she attempted to remove an individual from a house after responding to a domestic disturbance call. (Dkt. 57 ¶ 4). After her injury, Albright requested light duty assignments. (Id. at ¶ 7). Albright returned to work full-time in a light duty position on November 9, 2015, in the Warrant Call Center. (Id. at ¶ 10; Dkt. 48 ¶ 33). On July 2, 2016, Albright returned to work as a full-duty Sheriff's patrol deputy. (Dkt. 57-2 ¶ 4).

         Plaintiffs Albright, Kaczkowski, and Lloyd each received a full-year regular salary according to the Public Employees Disability Act (“PEDA”) for the first year that they were on leave. (Dkt. 57 at ¶¶ 11, 29, 45). After their first year on leave and up until they returned to full-time work in a light duty capacity, Albright and Kaczkowski each received total temporary disability (“TTD”) payments pursuant to their individual worker's compensation claims. (Id. at ¶¶ 12, 30). TTD payments equal two-thirds of an employee's salary without withholding taxes and pension contributions. (Id. at ¶ 31). Lloyd did not receive TTD payments until his worker's compensation arbitrator ordered the benefits to be paid. (Dkt. 57-3 ¶ 4). Smith received his full salary pursuant to PEDA for his first period of medical leave between March 13, 2014, and August 27, 2014. (Dkt. 53 ¶ 55). During his second period of medical leave from October 31, 2014, to mid-September 2015, Smith received workers' compensation. (Dkt. 53 ¶ 61).

         The Sheriff's Office is bound by a DuPage County policy which states that if an employee is off work after using twelve weeks of Family Medical Leave, then the employee is responsible for their entire health insurance premium. (Dkt. 57 ¶ 68). All of the plaintiffs had to change their insurance plans and pay higher premiums as a result of the policy. (Id. at ¶¶ 19, 33, 48, 55, 61).

         Throughout this time, the Sheriff's Office believed that each plaintiff's disability was temporary and that they would return to full-duty as deputies after physician approval. (Id. at ¶ 71). The Sheriff maintained the plaintiffs' position and seniority while they were on medical leave. (Id. at ¶ 75).

         Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper when “the admissible evidence shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” McGreal v. Vill. of Orland Park, 850 F.3d 308, 312 (7th Cir. 2017), reh'g denied (Mar. 27, 2017) (quoting Hanover Ins. Co. v. N. Bldg. Co., 751 F.3d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 2014)); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether summary judgment is appropriate, this Court accepts the nonmoving party's evidence as true and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 244, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

         “A court is not required to grant summary judgment as a matter of law for either side when faced with cross-motions for summary judgment. Rather, the court is to evaluate each motion on its merits, resolving factual uncertainties and drawing all reasonable inferences against the movant.” Crespo v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of ...


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