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Harding v. Central Transport LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

March 20, 2017




         William Harding, a pro se plaintiff, is proceeding on a claim against his former employer, defendant Central Transport LLC (“Central Transport”), for employment discrimination based on an alleged disability. (DE # 1.) Central Transport has moved for summary judgment. (DE # 26.) For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted.


         Summary judgment must be granted when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists when “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). Not every dispute between the parties makes summary judgment inappropriate; “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Id. To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010).

         A party opposing a properly supported summary judgment motion may not rely merely on allegations or denials in his or her own pleading, but rather must “marshal and present the court with the evidence she contends will prove her case.” Goodman v. Nat'l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010). If the nonmoving party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which he or she bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is proper. Massey v. Johnson, 457 F.3d 711, 716 (7th Cir. 2006).

         Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion for summary judgment, despite being given proper notice of the motion. (See DE # 28.) Pursuant to N.D. Ind. Local Rule 7-1(d)(4), a party's failure to file a response within the time prescribed may subject the motion to summary ruling. Nevertheless, “[s]trict enforcement of [local rules] does not mean that a party's failure to submit a timely filing automatically results in summary judgment for the opposing party.” Wienco, Inc. v. Katahn Assoc., Inc., 965 F.2d 565, 568 (7th Cir. 1992). Rather, that failure “causes all factual assertions alleged by the opposing party to be deemed admitted.” Id. Accordingly, defendant Central Transport's “statement of material facts” (DE # 27 at 4-5) is deemed admitted and undisputed. The court still must “make the further finding that given the undisputed facts, summary judgment is proper as a matter of law.” Wienco, Inc., 965 F.2d at 568.


         On March 18, 2011, Central Transport hired plaintiff William Harding to work as a linehaul driver. (DE # 27-1 at 1.) In June of that year, Harding fell off a dock at work and was injured. (DE # 1 at 2.) The last day that Harding worked for Central Transport was June 15, 2011. (DE # 27-1 at 2.) On July 1, 2011, Harding received his final check for work performed as a driver, and 14 days later he began receiving worker's compensation benefits related to his occupational injury. (Id.) On September 21, 2012, Central Transport received notice that Harding had undergone an examination by an independent medical examiner, which detailed his medical restrictions. (Id.)

         On October 7, 2014, Harding filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the City of Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission. (DE # 27-2.) Harding alleges that since his injury, Central Transport has not allowed him to work. (DE # 1 at 2.) He argues that Central Transport could have accommodated his disability by assigning him to a “drive only” position. (Id.) According to Harding, the failure to provide this accommodation is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). (Id.) However, prior to filing his charge on October 7, 2014, Harding had never asked Central Transport to provide him with an accommodation or alternate employment position. (DE # 27-1 at 2.)

         Additionally, Harding alleges that he is still employed by Central Transport because “in March 2014, [he] was given a random drug test.” (DE # 1 at 2-3.) Harding does not specify who gave him this drug test, nor does he provide any evidence of it outside of a single allegation in his complaint. (See id.) Regardless, the undisputed evidence provided by defendant demonstrates that Central Transport did not ask Harding to take a drug test in March 2014. (DE # 27-1 at 3, 10-13.)

         Harding filed his complaint in this court on October 22, 2015. (DE # 1.) Central Transport filed its motion for summary judgment on March 15, 2016. (DE # 26.) The motion is now ripe for ruling.


         In its motion, Central Transport argues that summary judgment is appropriate because Harding did not file a charge of discrimination in a timely manner. (DE # 27 at 6.) To successfully pursue a claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must have timely filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or appropriate local agency. See Stepney v. Naperville Sch. Dist. 203, 392 F.3d 236, 239 (7th Cir. 2004). The ADA's enforcement provision expressly incorporates this timeliness requirement from Title VII. Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a) and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1)). Consequently, in Indiana, charges of discrimination “must be filed within 300 days of the occurrence of the act that is the basis of the complaint.” DeLon v. Eli Lilly & Co., 990 F.Supp.2d 865, 871 (S.D. Ind. 2013).

         Harding filed his charge of discrimination on October 7, 2014, and 300 days before that date is December 11, 2013. Thus any contention by Harding that Central Transport “failed to accommodate his disability” before December 3, 2013, “cannot be used to support [his] ...

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