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Ammons v. Dart

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

May 7, 2018

LEE E. AMMONS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS J. DART, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN ROBERT BLAKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Lee Ammons sued his employer, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, and Cook County, alleging multiple discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims. For the reasons explained below, this Court grants the motion.

         I. Background

         The facts come from Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts [27] and Plaintiff's statement of additional facts [34]. Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants' facts, so this Court deems those facts admitted pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. See Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000).

         A. Plaintiff's Declaration

         Plaintiff's statement of facts [34] relies entirely upon his own declaration [35] for support. Plaintiff filed this case in August 2016 and never amended his complaint, [1], but his declaration discusses-for the first time-events that happened as late as June and November 2017, see [34] ¶¶ 5-9. Plaintiff may not amend his complaint at summary judgment by raising new allegations for the first time. See Trade Fin. Partners, LLC v. AAR Corp., 573 F.3d 401, 412 (7th Cir. 2009); Griffin v. Potter, 356 F.3d 824, 830 (7th Cir. 2004). Thus, this Court disregards paragraphs 5-9 of Plaintiff's statement of facts and any corresponding arguments in Plaintiff's response brief [33].

         Additionally, paragraph 3 of Plaintiff's declaration contradicts his deposition. At his June 2017 deposition, Plaintiff testified that Defendants failed to give him a replacement chair after someone stole his ergonomic chair. [27-3] at 8. But in his undated declaration (filed in January 2018), Plaintiff now says that Defendants gave him a “purported replacement ergonomic chair, ” but the replacement “was too small to safely and comfortably fit me.” [35] ¶ 3. Both statements contradict Defendants' statement, deemed admitted, that they offered Plaintiff another ergonomic chair, but he did not like that chair because it lacked arms. [27] ¶ 11.

         Declarations like Plaintiff's, though signed under oath, typically represent a lawyer's work product; thus, when offered to contradict the declarant's prior sworn testimony, they “are so lacking in credibility as to be entitled to zero weight in summary judgment proceedings unless the affiant gives a plausible explanation for the discrepancy.” Beckel v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 301 F.3d 621, 623 (7th Cir. 2002). Here, Plaintiff offers no such explanation for the discrepancy between his testimony and his declaration, and the declaration appears designed to manufacture an issue of fact about whether the replacement chair met Plaintiff's needs. See Bank of Ill. v. Allied Signal Safety Restraint Sys., 75 F.3d 1162, 1168 (7th Cir. 1996). Thus, this Court disregards paragraph 3 of Plaintiff's declaration and any corresponding arguments. See Beckel, 301 F.3d at 623.

         B. ADA Background

         Plaintiff, an African-American man, works for the Cook County Sheriff's Office as a correctional officer. [27] ¶ 1. Plaintiff kept his job as a correctional officer at his regular salary throughout the events described here. Id. ¶ 5. His current posting in Division Four of the Cook County Jail requires him to maintain order and security near the classrooms where detainees attend school. Id. ¶ 19.

         Plaintiff suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. Id. ¶ 6. In early 2015, he and the Sheriff's HR Department engaged in the interactive process required under the ADA. Id. ¶ 7. The Sheriff's Office agreed to the following accommodations for Plaintiff in April 2015: no prolonged standing, no lifting over twenty-five pounds, close proximity to a bathroom and refrigerator, and an ergonomic chair. Id. ¶ 8. The Sherriff's Office renewed those accommodations in January 2016, and also said that Plaintiff could bring insulin, needles, and glucose-testing supplies to work in a cooler. Id. ¶ 9.

         Plaintiff originally requested a refrigerator to keep his insulin cool during the day. Id. ¶ 15. In June 2015, the Sheriff's Office gave him a cooling bag to store the insulin, but Plaintiff said that he did not want a cooling bag because it leaked and he found it inconvenient. Id. ¶ 16. Instead, Plaintiff chose to share a refrigerator with the employee who occupied the office next to his post. Id. ¶ 17.

         Plaintiff does not like to inject insulin in front of his coworkers. Id. ¶ 12. In January or February 2016, Plaintiff's supervisor, Sergeant Milton, prevented Plaintiff from taking his insulin shots on time twice in one day. Id. ¶ 18. The record does not indicate how Milton did this, or that Plaintiff suffered any medical harm from taking the shots late. See Id. On a couple occasions, Milton purportedly made fun of Plaintiff by telling him, in front of detainees: “Go take your medicine.” Id. ¶ 21.

         Around February 2016, the Sheriff's Office promised Plaintiff that it would make a locked washroom available for him to administer his shots. Id. Plaintiff requested a “private bathroom.” Id. The Sheriff's Office moved Plaintiff to an assignment within three or four steps of a bathroom that has a lock on the outer door and on each stall door. Id. ¶¶ 13, 26-27.

         The exact timing remains unclear, but at some point after the Sheriff's Office gave Plaintiff an ergonomic chair, someone on the midnight shift took the chair. Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff's supervisors returned the chair to him, but it now tilted to the right due to damage. Id. Rebecca Rierson, who handles ADA issues for the Sheriff's Office, offered Plaintiff another ergonomic chair; he did not like that chair, however, because it lacked arms. Id.

         C. Title VII Background

         In January 2015, a white coworker, Deputy Cuddy, used the N-word in Plaintiff's presence three times over four days. Id. ¶ 23. Around the same time (neither party specifies exactly when), another white coworker, Deputy Cordoba, squeezed Plaintiff's chest on three occasions. Id. ΒΆ 24. Plaintiff complained to supervisors, and the Sheriff's Office moved him to Division ...


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