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Busz v. Gladieux

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

January 2, 2019

BOBBY JO BUSZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLEN COUNTY SHERIFF DAVID GLADIEUX, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         The Defendant, [1] Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, seeks summary judgment on the claims of the Plaintiff, Bobby Jo Busz [ECF No. 33]; specifically, the Plaintiff's claims under Titles I and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and various state and constitutional claims. For the reasons stated below, the Defendant's Motion is GRANTED and the Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Defendant's Department operates the Allen County Work Release Program (the “Program”) out of the Allen County Work Release Center (the “Center”), a minimum-security work release facility. While serving a one-year prison term, the Plaintiff was accepted into the Program, and housed at the Center, starting on or about October 8, 2015. As a participant in the Program, the Plaintiff was required to obtain employment within thirty days of intake and find new employment within twenty-one days of termination “under less than adverse conditions.” See Allen Cmty. Agreement to Obtain Emp., ECF No. 35-2. The Center set the hours within which the Plaintiff could search for employment. The Plaintiff also committed to receiving the Center staff's approval if he wanted to change employment and pay 25% of his income or $22.00 a day as room and board. The Center was “in touch” with H&E to “ensure that [the Plaintiff] was performing his work in a satisfactory manner.” See Aff. of Michael Biltz, ¶ 6, ECF No. 33-1.

         A Residential Adviser at the Center told the Plaintiff about a job opportunity at H&E Machined Specialities (“H&E”). The Plaintiff applied and obtained employment at H&E. H&E set the Plaintiff's rate of pay, paid the Plaintiff, and a plant manager at H&E directed the Plaintiff's work and established his working schedule. On or around November 12, 2015, at approximately 5:00 p.m., the Plaintiff took a Tylenol PM cold pill and experienced an adverse reaction. Later that day, H&E terminated the Plaintiff's employment. No individuals involved in the Allen County Work Release Program played a role in the decision to terminate the Plaintiff. However, on November 23, 2015, the Allen County Work Release Program held a hearing, and found that “[i]nmate Busz was terminated from employment due to his bizarre behavior at H&E Machined Specialties.” See Allen Cmty. Work Release Ctr. Discipline Committee Report (the “Report”), ECF No. 35-5. Under “Sanction Recommendation, ” the Report states, “[i]nmate Busz must obtain full-time employment within 21 days of his termination date.” Id.

         The Plaintiff stayed in the Program and remained housed at the Center, until his scheduled release from custody. The Plaintiff obtained new employment on December 7, 2015.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is proper where the evidence of record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then shifts to the non-movant to “go beyond the pleadings” to cite evidence of a genuine factual dispute precluding summary judgment. Id. at 324. “[A] court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.” Waldridge v. Am. Heochst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). If the non-movant does not come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in its favor on a material issue, then the Court must enter summary judgment against it. Id.

         ANALYSIS

         The Plaintiff brought a variety of claims. The Plaintiff concedes that summary judgment should be granted on his various constitutional and state law claims. See, et al., Resp. to Mot., ECF No. 35, p. 2. Remaining are his claims for: (1) discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, (2) discrimination under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and (3) discrimination under Title I of the ADA.

         A. Discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

          To establish a claim under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Plaintiff must show that (1) he is a qualified individual, (2) with a disability, (3) who was denied access to a program or activity on the basis of his disability through an entity receiving federal financial assistance. See Wis. Cmty. Serv. v. City of Milwaukee, 465 F.3d 737, 746-47 (7th Cir. 2006). The Rehabilitation Act applies to work release programs. See Jaros v. Ill. Dept. of Corr., 684 F.3d 667, 673 (7th Cir. 2012).

         The only issue the parties contest is whether the Plaintiff was denied access to a program or activity by an entity receiving federal financial assistance. The Plaintiff argues first that, because H&E is the Defendant's contractor, H&E's termination of him qualifies as denial of access to a program. Even assuming the Plaintiff's theory is legally supported, but see Maxwell v. S. Bend Work Release Ctr., 787 F.Supp.2d 819, 827-28 (N.D. Ind. 2011) (holding that only a direct beneficiary of federal funds, not an indirect, alleged contractor, can be liable under the Rehabilitation Act), the Plaintiff has presented no evidence that H&E was, in fact, the Defendant's contractor. Without establishing this prerequisite relationship, there is no genuine dispute of material fact.

         In the alternative, the Plaintiff argues that the Defendant did directly discriminate against the Plaintiff through the Report. However, while the Report does “sanction” the Plaintiff by requiring him to find new employment within twenty-one days, the Plaintiff does not present any support for the conclusion that the Report or the Sanction was a denial of access to the work release program. Cf. Jaros, 684 F.3d at 673 (blocking an inmate from participating in the program would qualify as denial of access), Maxwell v. S. Bend Work Release Ctr., Case No. 3:09-cv-08, 2011 WL 4688825, *5 (N.D Ind. Oct. 3, 2011) (indicating that, although the plaintiff failed to establish causation, removal from the program does meet the elements of a rehabilitation claim). Particularly as the ...


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