United States District Court, D. Kansas
MARK O. SCHMIDT, Plaintiff,
GPI-KS-SB, LLC dba BARON BMW, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KATHRYN H. VRATIL, District Judge.
Mark O. Schmidt brings suit against GPI KS-SB, Inc. d/b/a/Baron BMW ("Baron") for alleged violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and retaliatory discharge under the Kansas Workers' Compensation Act, K.S.A. § 44-501 et seq. This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. #20) filed April 4, 2014. In response to defendant's motion, plaintiff concedes that summary judgment is appropriate on the ADEA, Title VII and Kansas Workers' Compensation Act claims. See Plaintiff's [Response] Brief To Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's Response") (Doc. #36) filed May 23, 2014 at 2-3, 5. Plaintiff's only remaining claims are for discrimination and retaliation under the ADA. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that defendant's motion should be sustained.
I. Legal Standards
Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Hill v. Allstate Ins. Co. , 479 F.3d 735, 740 (10th Cir. 2007). A factual dispute is "material" only if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. at 248. A "genuine" factual dispute requires more than a mere scintilla of evidence in support of a party's position. Id. at 252.
The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Nahno-Lopez v. Houser , 625 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 2010). Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate that genuine issues remain for trial as to those dispositive matters for which he carries the burden of proof. Applied Genetics Int'l, Inc. v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc. , 912 F.2d 1238, 1241 (10th Cir. 1990); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). To carry his burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on his pleadings but must instead set forth specific facts supported by competent evidence. Nahno-Lopez , 625 F.3d at 1283.
The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Deepwater Invs., Ltd. v. Jackson Hole Ski Corp. , 938 F.2d 1105, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). It may grant summary judgment if the nonmoving party's evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative. Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. at 250-51. In response to a motion for summary judgment, a party cannot rely on ignorance of facts, on speculation or on suspicion, and he may not escape summary judgment in the mere hope that something will turn up at trial. Conaway v. Smith , 853 F.2d 789, 794 (10th Cir. 1988); Olympic Club v. Those Interested Underwriters at Lloyd's London , 991 F.2d 497, 503 (9th Cir. 1993). The heart of the inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. at 251-52.
The following facts are either uncontroverted, deemed admitted or construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff.
Baron sells and services BMW automobiles in Merriam, Kansas. In 1984, plaintiff began work as an apprentice mechanic with Hafkemeyer BMW, Baron's predecessor. Hafkemeyer BMW promoted plaintiff to Technician in the service department soon thereafter. In April of 2005, plaintiff injured his left elbow at work. Plaintiff's injury was treated conservatively until April of 2006, when he had surgery. Following his surgery, plaintiff returned to work and Hafkemeyer BMW assigned plaintiff to the position of Quality Control Manager.
A. Baron's New Ownership And Management
On January 10, 2007, GPI KS-SB, Inc. purchased the dealership. Plaintiff submitted an employment application, and defendant retained plaintiff in the position of Quality Control Manager. In November of 2007, Chuck Davis became Service Director and directly supervised plaintiff.
In February of 2009, Davis recognized that many of plaintiff's duties as Quality Control Manager were consistent with the title of Shop Foreman and promoted plaintiff to that position.
On March 10, 2009, plaintiff acknowledged receiving a copy of the Employee Handbook dated January 15, 2009 and agreed to familiarize himself with the contents. The Employee Handbook contained a section titled "Equal Employment Opportunity, " which instructed plaintiff to notify his human resources representative if he needed an accommodation to perform the essential functions of his job. Some time after December of 2010, plaintiff told Davis that he had limitations regarding the use of his left arm. Plaintiff did not specify the limitations. Plaintiff is right-handed.
B. Plaintiff's Performance As Shop Foreman
During the two years following plaintiff's promotion to Shop Foreman in 2009, Davis became increasingly concerned about plaintiff's performance. Davis believed that plaintiff often approached his job from the perspective of a technician rather than a member of management, i.e. plaintiff often viewed a proposed change in methodology or procedure from the perspective of how it might impact the technicians rather than how it might benefit the dealership or the corporation as a whole. Davis believed that plaintiff's long tenure as a technician may have led him to become too "buddy-buddy" with the technicians for him to perform effectively in a management role. From other employees, Davis understood that plaintiff often complained to technicians about conversations with Davis regarding department operations. Such complaints were inappropriate in plaintiff's management role. Davis further understood that plaintiff often complained about the BMW engineer assigned to assist and advise the technicians, argued with the BMW engineer about recommendations and spread discontent among other employees to the detriment of the dealership. Davis concluded that plaintiff was unable or ...