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Morgan v. Ball M Beverage Container Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana

April 6, 2017

JERRY MORGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
BALL M BEVERAGE CONTAINER CORP. d/b/a BALL CORPORATION, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          William C. Lee, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the court on a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant, Ball M Beverage Container Corp. (“Ball”), on November 16, 2016. The plaintiff, Jerry Morgan (“Morgan”), filed his response on January 9, 2017, to which Ball responded on February 2, 2017.

         For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         Summary Judgment

         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 precludes summary judgment, however, since “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law” warrant a trial. 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. Heft v. Moore, 351 F.3d 278, 282 (7th Cir. 2003). A party opposing a properly supported summary judgment motion may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its 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).

         Discussion

         Morgan has sued his employer, Ball, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and the Age Discriminaiton in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Morgan alleges discrimination and retaliation.

         Ball manufactures aluminum beverage cans and bottles at its Monticello, Indiana plant. (Declaration of Paula Thoennes (“Thoennes Decl.”) ¶4). Morgan, who was born in 1954, worked for Ball and its predecessor companies from September 1991 until his resignation in October 2002. (Thoennes Decl. ¶9; Morgan Dep. 11:8-9). On or around May 5, 2007, Ball rehired Morgan as a Maintenance Supervisor at the Monticello plant. (Thoennes Decl. ¶9; Morgan Dep. 41:20-22, 96:2-16); Dkt. 1, ¶14). As a Maintenance Supervisor, Morgan supervised approximately fourteen employees and managed the maintenance function at the Monticello plant. (Thoennes Decl. ¶7). From May 5, 2007 until his termination on November 25, 2014, Morgan reported to Freddy Spencer, Engineering Manager, who was born in1956. (Morgan Dep. 41:25-42:2, 68:3-15; Declaration of Freddy Spencer (“Spencer Decl.”) ¶¶2, 4, 5; Dkt. 1, ¶¶ 14, 28). Morgan received Ball's Hourly Employee Handbook by at least January 4, 2011. (Morgan Dep. 131:23-132:12, Ex. 8).

         In or around April 2010, Chris Czajkowski, who was born in 1968, became the Monticello Plant Manager. (Declaration of Chris Czajkowski (“Czajkowski Decl.”) ¶¶2-3). Czajkowski implemented heightened standards for employee performance across all levels. (Czajkowski Decl. ¶4). Ball communicated to all employees that they would be held to higher performance expectations moving forward. (Id.). Morgan believed Czajkowski “came in . . . getting rid of everybody.” (Morgan Dep. 61:21-25).

         Morgan received several performance-related disciplinary warnings between 2010 and 2014. (Morgan Dep. 42:18-24). On July 2, 2010, Morgan received a performance memorandum addressing his poor leadership skills and work performance. (Morgan Dep. 138:5-19, 2 Ex. 13; Thoennes Decl. ¶10, Ex. 13). The warning cautioned Morgan to immediately improve his performance in the following areas:

1. You must gain control of your associates and show your leadership skills to gain the confidence from your department. You must demonstrate to your associates that you are trustworthy and honest.
2. You must have follow-up and follow-through techniques making sure jobs are thoroughly and accurately completed.
3. You must be self-motivated. Your motivation reflects on your associates.
4. You must be focused on paying attention to details. Failing to pay attention to details leads to unnecessary downtime, missed deadlines, delays, etc.
5. You must plan & pre-plan for work. You must get out on the floor and assess jobs, work with the production group to minimize downtime, and take advantage to correct multiple issues when downtime is available.
6. You must be professional in all you do and with all levels in our organization. i.e. Provide answers instead of excuses, no sarcastic remarks, etc. . .

         (Morgan Dep., Ex. 13). The memorandum noted “We explained a few months ago that we were ‘raising the bar' for the entire engineering department.” (Morgan Dep., Ex. 13).

         Despite his July 2, 2010, warning, on September 16, 2010, Morgan received another disciplinary warning for a serious safety violation. (Morgan Dep. 134:22-135:7, 137:23-138:4, Ex. 12). The warning provided that Morgan had failed to follow crucial safety procedures. (Morgan Dep., Ex. 12). Morgan received a five day suspension, without pay, for the violation.

(Id.)

         On October 15, 2010, Morgan and Ball executed a Last Chance Agreement (“LCA”).

         (Morgan Dep. 43:21-44:13, Ex. 4). The LCA provided

Jerry, please be advised that your performance as it relates to Employee Relations is unacceptable. You have failed to keep our work environment free from workplace harassment. You have received training regarding your responsibilities as it pertains to preventing and stopping harassment. . . Regardless, you did not fulfill your responsibilities as a member of management. . . .
As you are aware, you are an at-will employee and may be terminated by the Company at any time, with or without cause. By signing this agreement, you understand that the Company's willingness to continue your employment is dependent upon you fulfilling your EEO managerial responsibilities.

         (Morgan Dep., Ex. 4). Morgan and Czajkowski signed the LCA on October 15, 2010. (Morgan Dep., Ex. 4). Morgan does not believe the LCA had anything to do with his age or medical condition. (Morgan Dep. 45:14-46:18).

         In December 2010, Morgan received an overall “needs improvement” rating on his 2010 performance review. (Spencer Decl. ¶¶8-9, Ex. A). He also received “needs improvement” ratings in the individual areas of integrity and trust, building effective teams, and managing and measuring work. (Spencer Decl., Ex. A). Spencer specifically noted Morgan's subordinates did not trust him. Id. Spencer also counseled Morgan that he needed to work on building an effective team by better managing his team members. Id. With regard to organization, Spencer noted “[Morgan] is sloppy in his work area and being disorganized hampers his efforts to manage his work effectively.” Id. ...


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