United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
DILLON B. REEDER, Plaintiff,
DOUGLAS G. CARTER, in his official capacity as Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, Defendant.
ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE.
matter comes before us on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment
filed by Plaintiff Dillon B. Reeder (“Mr.
Reeder”) [Dkt. No. 40] and by Defendant Douglas G.
Carter, Superintendent of the Indiana State Police
(“ISP”) (“Superintendent Carter”) in
his official capacity [Dkt. No. 37]. The motions relate to
Mr. Reeder's claims under the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§
12101, et seq., and are ripe for ruling. For the
reasons detailed below, we GRANT Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and DENY the Motion for
Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff.
and Procedural Background
Recruit Academy located in Plainfield, Indiana conducts an
annual, limited duration program to train recruits who aspire
to become State Troopers. Mr. Reeder, as part of his effort
to become a State Trooper, enrolled in ISP's 74th class,
which ran from July 21, 2014 to December 23, 2014. Deposition
of Zachary Parker, Dkt. No. 37-1 (“Parker Dep.”)
curriculum consists of 929 hours of required training, which
includes physical training and classroom-based training in
criminal justice, administrative, and police-related
subjects. Deposition of Superintendent Carter, Dkt. Nos. 37-2
and 44 (“Carter Dep.”) at 99; Deposition of
Sargent Russell Garrison, Dkt. Nos. 37-4 and 44
(“Garrison Dep.”) Ex. 3. The ISP regards the
physical training component as “not something that
[one] can simply observe”; rather, active participation
is required. Id. In that vein, the ISP retains
authority to dismiss from the Academy recruits who fail to
satisfy the minimum physical standards set forth by the
Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy
(“ILEA”). Carter Dep. at 90; Garrison Dep. Ex. 3.
Certain aspects of Academy training require recruits to wear
Tactical Defense Uniforms (“TDUs”) comprised of a
duty belt and a bulletproof vest. Garrison Dep. Ex. 11.
essential skills required of a State Trooper trainee are set
forth by statute and by the 74th Recruit Academy Policy and
Procedures Manual. Garrison Dep. Ex. 11. A recruit must
complete rigorous physical training and pass substantive
coursework selected by the Superintendent. Ind. Code §
10-11-2-14(b); see also 240 IAC 1-44-4 and 5
(providing that ISP requires that recruits “conform to
the physical standards prescribed by the Superintendent and
the State Police Board, ” specifying that recruits must
“be able to successfully pass any physical agility
tests as may be prescribed by the department.”).
weekdays during the training sessions recruits remain on
Academy grounds with permission to leave only when released
by their instructors. The ISP contracts with a third party
provider to supply recruits with all meals, and the menus
reflect a limited choice of options. Deposition of Major
Charles Sorrells, Dkt. Nos. 37-2 and 44 (“Sorrells
Dep.”) at 39.
Carter is vested with sole authority to determine
recruits' eligibility to graduate from the Academy.
Carter Dep. at 101. Upon successful completion of the ISP
Academy course, recruits are eligible to apply for State
Trooper positions located in various Indiana counties.
Recruits are also required to participate in post-graduation
training under the instruction of a Field Training Officer
(“FTO”). Garrison Dep. at 105. The duration of
this final stage of training is fourteen weeks, which allows
a recruit to obtain capstone training and experience from a
veteran trooper. Sorrells Dep. at 117.
Attendance at the Academy
Reeder enrolled in and began attending the ISP Academy in
July 2014. Within a few months, during his fifteenth and
sixteenth weeks, he began experiencing significant back pain.
Deposition of Dillon Reeder, Dkt. No. 37-3 and 44
(“Reeder Dep.”) at 26, 28, 30. A few weeks
following the onset of his back pain during the Academy's
eighteenth week, he sought medical treatment on November 7,
2014 at Indiana University Hospital in Martinsville, Indiana,
and was diagnosed with having uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Thomas Lahr, M.D. admitted him to St. Francis Hospital to
undergo glucose reduction and insulin treatment in an effort
to stabilize his condition. As a result, he missed four days
of classroom-based training offered that week. Reeder Dep. at
24. Mr. Reeder testified that at the time of his diagnosis he
had lost over fifty pounds from the first day he enrolled in
the Academy. Reeder Dep. at 28.
to Mr. Reeder, Major Sorrells, the Academy's Human
Resources officer, visited him at Indiana University Hospital
in Martinsville on November 9, 2014, and again at St. Francis
Hospital on November 10 and 12, 2014. Reeder Dep. at 29-30.
Mr. Reeder testified that Major Sorrells informed him that a
recording was being made of the classroom sessions during his
hospitalization which would allow him to catch up with the
missed presentations upon his return. Id. at 32.
to his release from St. Francis Hospital on November 10,
2014, Mr. Reeder's physician provided him with guidelines
and recommendations for meals and warned him against engaging
in strenuous exercise which could negatively affect his blood
sugar levels. Reeder Dep. at 38. Mr. Reeder was advised to
request that the Academy make available to him an appropriate
meal plan. Id. Mr. Reeder testified that Major
Sorrells was present during this discussion with the
discharging physician. Id. at 39.
Reeder maintains that Major Sorrells informed him that he had
satisfied most of the requirements for becoming a State
Trooper, needing only at that point to “log classroom
hours” following his return to the Academy.
Id. He recalls that Major Sorrells promised to
arrange for an appropriate meal plan for him at the Academy
and to assist him in securing a post-graduation job in the
county closest to Mr. Reeder's hometown to allow him to
continue his medical appointments. Id. at 33. Major
Sorrells, however, denies having had any specific discussions
with Mr. Reeder regarding accommodations following his return
to the Academy. Sorrells Dep. at 115-16. In any event, the
ISP stresses that only the Superintendent, not Major Sorrells
or anyone else, has the authority to determine whether and
when a recruit has satisfied the Academy's graduation
requirements. Carter Dep. at 101.
November 16, 2014, one day prior to Mr. Reeder's return
to the Academy, Gary Midla, D.O., Mr. Reeder's family
physician, cleared Mr. Reeder to return to the classroom but
issued a written report to the ISP notifying ISP that Mr.
Reeder was “not yet able to tolerate the rigors of the
physical part of his training.” Garrison Dep. Ex. 9.
When Mr. Reeder returned to the Academy on November 17, 2014,
he did so with the expectation that he would receive any and
all required accommodations necessitated by his medical
condition. Reeder Dep. at 96, 136.
Reeder asserts that for the most part his dietary needs were
not met; only on a handful of occasions during the first few
days after his return to the Academy were his meals properly
adjusted. Reeder Dep. at 41-43, 61. The ISP explains that it
did its best to accommodate Mr. Reeder's dietary needs,
given its contractual relationship with the third party food
service provider. Defendant's Answers to Plaintiff's
Interrogatories, Dkt. 37-7 (“Defendant's
Answers”) at 3. During mealtimes, Mr. Reeder reported
that he personally assumed responsibility for his meals by
limiting his intake to foods lower in carbohydrates and
substituting other fare with specially made turkey
sandwiches. Reeder Dep. at 36, 38-39. On his first day back
at the Academy, the ISP permitted Mr. Reeder to access snacks
between meals, which had been delivered by his mother. ISP
also allowed Mr. Reeder unrestricted access to refrigerated
beverages. Defendant's Answers at 2.
Reeder sought to be excused from his physical training
courses (Reeder Dep. at 96) but his instructors were unable
to accommodate this request. He engaged as much as he could,
even while wearing his TDU. Reeder Dep. at 39. However, Mr.
Reeder found this activity to be too rigorous for him. Reeder
Dep. at 45. On November 21, 2014, Dr. Lahr, Mr. Reeder's
family physician, sent a letter to the ISP similar to the one
provided by Dr. Midla advising that Mr. Reeder still
“should not be involved in any physical
activity.” Garrison Dep. Ex. 10. This letter was
received and read by Major Sorrells. Sorrells Dep. at 32.
Nonetheless, Mr. Reeder was required to continue strenuous
training, which produced episodes of significant exhaustion
for him. Reeder Dep. at 60.
is no dispute between the parties regarding the fact that any
required accommodations to training procedures by the Academy
are made on a case-by-case basis. Sorrells Dep. at 94.
However, there is a dispute as to whether recruits were on
occasion permitted to observe, as opposed to directly
participate in, a training activity, a practice Mr. Reeder
refers to as “red-tagging.” Reeder Dep. at 39.
Mr. Reeder maintains that the practice of
“red-tagging” occurred from time to time, though
ISP staff apparently remained unaware of its use. Sorrells
Dep. at 110-11. To make this point, Mr. Reeder identified
certain other recruits who had suffered injuries and were
excused from physical training for short periods of time
(i.e., one week). In such cases, the recruits were
given a “red tag” to show they were under
restrictions until they were physically able to return to
training. Reeder Dep. at 61-62. One recruit who had
suffered a broken shoulder and was excused from training
during the final two or three weeks of Academy training was
still permitted to graduate subject to his completion of the
missed training. Garrison Dep. at 43; Defendant's
Supplemental Answers, Dkt. No. 44 at 106.
made various accommodations for Mr. Reeder following his
diabetes diagnosis. He was allowed to carry equipment with
him for monitoring his blood sugar levels and to notify his
instructors if he needed modifications of the physical
training. He was allowed to return to his dorm to rest as
needed, at his discretion. Defendant's Answers at 3. On
certain occasions, he was excused altogether from engaging in
training exercises when he was unable to complete them. He
was also excused from Evasive Vehicle Operations
(“EVO”) training on an occasion when he did not
feel well (Reeder Dep. at 49). Another time, Mr. Reeder was
escorted back to his dorm without having completed an
exercise called “night fire.” Reeder Dep. at
53-55. Once, his instructor exempted him from an exercise
called “one on one hitman” since he had
previously completed “two on one hitman.”
Id. at 47.
point, it became clear that Mr. Reeder would be unable to
complete all the requirements necessary in order to graduate
as a member of the 74th Academy. This determination was
reflected in ISP records. Carter Dep. at 101. In December
2014, prior to the recruits' participation in the
Quickening Field Scenarios, a strenuous, three-day off-site
training exercise in Jennings County referred to as
“the Quickening, ” Mr. Reeder was deemed
unqualified to participate. Carter Dep. at 102-03, 122.
Reeder's Fitness-for-Duty Report and Removal from the
to the Quickening, Mr. Reeder was ordered by the ISP to
undergo a Fitness-for-Duty evaluation, which examination and
report were completed by Dr. Steven Moffatt, M.D. on December
9, 2014. Reeder Dep. at 63. This evaluation was to
determine whether Mr. Reeder's medical condition might
prevent him from performing the essential functions of a
State Trooper position. Moffatt Dep. at 10. Based on the
examination, the evaluations by Doctors Midla and Lahr, Dr.
Moffatt prepared the following report:
Dillion Reeder is a 23 year old Trooper cadet currently in
the Academy who presented with substantial weight loss in
November 2014 of approximately 42 pounds during the Academy.
He was noted to have severe exhaustion and was taken to the
emergency room and found to have a blood sugar of over 1200.
. . He was hospitalized for 4 days undergoing glucose
reduction and the institution of insulin to control his
diabetes Type 1.
Additionally, while hospitalized he was found to have renal
insufficiency secondary to his diabetes crisis . . . His
renal functions have returned to their normal measurements
without any significant proteinuria. He has done well with
regard to monitoring his blood sugars every 2 hours and
providing those to his endocrinologist, Dr. Waddle, who has
provided him adjustments in his insulin. He is additionally
on a sliding scale regular insulin adjustment. He has no
other complications associated with his diabetes.
Mr. Reeder understands that this disease is his
responsibility with regard to his treatment and that he is to
be compliant with regard to his insulin dosage. It is also
anticipated that in the near term approximately 4-8 weeks he
will undergo an insulin pump placement for greater, more
accurate control of his diabetes with an anticipation to be
released to unrestricted activity. However at this point in
time due to his continued episodes of exhaustion, it is
recommended that he not be placed in any strenuous physical
activity until further insulin adjustment is provided
regulating his glucose.
It should also be mentioned that the potential for death due
to his initial diagnosis of diabetes with a blood sugar of
over 1200 was a significant potential at presentation;
however he at this point in time has returned back to normal
In conclusion, Dillon is status post new diagnosis of Type 1
insulin diabetes currently being regulated with insulin and
is anticipated to have an insulin pump within the next 4-8
weeks. He has done well with regard to compliance and has
undergone nutrition counseling. Prognosis is reasonably good
for a return to unrestricted activity in approximately 4-8
weeks after implementation of the insulin pump. It should be
noted that I should ...