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Rancourt v. OneAZ Credit Union

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 16, 2018

James D. Rancourt, Plaintiff,
v.
OneAZ Credit Union, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge.

         At issue is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 67, MSJ), to which Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. 71, Resp.) and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 73, Reply). The Court resolves the Motion without oral argument. See LRCiv 7.2(f).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff James D. Rancourt worked as an Investigations/Security Manager for Defendant OneAZ Credit Union. On March 27, 2015, Plaintiff informed his manager, Robert Gibboni, that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Defendant accommodated Plaintiff's subsequent requests related to his treatment, including time off for physicians' appointments and work from home. Plaintiff received Defendant's approval for leave from work under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and his FMLA leave ran until June 19, 2015. He then received Defendant's approval for an extended leave of absence for an additional 30 days. Plaintiff applied for and received short-term disability insurance benefits, followed by long-term disability insurance benefits, followed by Social Security disability benefits. In July 2015, Plaintiff expressed to Defendant's human resources representative, Thea Ammon, that he was not able to return to work and that his survival was questionable, but that he hoped to return to work if his treatment was successful. Ammon informed Plaintiff that he remained an active employee on approved leave. Plaintiff's extended leave ended on July 20, 2015, at which time Defendant informed him he was eligible for rehire. But Plaintiff never applied for or sought re-employment. Later in 2015, Defendant ensured Plaintiff's COBRA medical insurance coverage continued through 2015, while Plaintiff underwent chemotherapy treatment.

         Plaintiff's doctors have never released him for a return to work. Moreover, Plaintiff collects long-term disability insurance benefits, which require that he certify that he is unable to work, and Social Security disability benefits, which require that he is not able to engage in substantial gainful activity.

         After filing a charge of disability discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on December 24, 2015, and receiving a right-to-sue letter on September 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant in Arizona state court on December 16, 2016. Defendant removed the action to this Court on January 20, 2017. (Doc. 1.) In his Complaint (Doc. 1-1 at 7-14, Compl.), Plaintiff raises four claims against Defendant: (1) failure to accommodate in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12112; (2) failure to accommodate in violation of the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA), A.R.S. § 41-1461 et seq.; (3) unlawful discrimination in violation of the ADA; and (4) unlawful discrimination in violation of the ACRA. Defendant now moves for summary judgment on all of the claims against it.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate when: (1) the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact; and (2) after viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party, the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987). Under this standard, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing [substantive] law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine issue” of material fact arises only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Id.

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must regard as true the non-moving party's evidence if it is supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. The non-moving party may not merely rest on its pleadings; it must produce some significant probative evidence tending to contradict the moving party's allegations, thereby creating a material question of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57 (holding that the plaintiff must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment); First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968).

         “A summary judgment motion cannot be defeated by relying solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). “Summary judgment must be entered ‘against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” United States v. Carter, 906 F.2d 1375, 1376 (9th Cir. 1990) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The ADA provides that “[n]o covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to . . . discharge of employees . . . and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” 28 U.S.C. § 12112. To establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, a plaintiff must show that he: 1) is disabled; 2) is qualified; and 3) suffered an adverse employment action because of his disability. Menchaca v. Maricopa Comm. College Dist., 595 F.Supp.2d 1063, 1067 (D. Ariz. 2009).

         The Court's resolution of Defendant's Motion begins and ends with the second element of the prima facie ADA discrimination test.

An ADA plaintiff bears the burden of proving that [he] is a “qualified individual with a disability”-that is, a person “who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions” of [his] job. A totally disabled person who cannot “perform the essential functions of the employment position” with or without reasonable accommodations ...

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