United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID N. SNIDER, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES STEEL-FAIRFIELD WORKS MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, Defendant
For David M Snider, Plaintiff: Kimberly R Dodson, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF KIMBERLY R DODSON LLC, Birmingham, AL.
For United States Steel -Fairfield Works Medical Department, Defendant: Anthony F Jeselnik, UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, Law Department, Pittsburgh, PA; William H Morrow, LIGHTFOOT FRANKLIN & WHITE LLC, Birmingham, AL.
ABDUL K. KALLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David M. Snider filed this lawsuit against his employer United States Steel-Fairfield Works Medical Department (" U.S. Steel" ) alleging that U.S. Steel discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (" ADA" ), when it placed Snider on medical leave in response
to an alleged threat Snider made against co-workers. Before the court is U.S. Steel's motion for summary judgment, which is briefed and ripe for resolution. Docs. 31, 33, 34, 38, 38. For the reasons stated below, the motion is due to be granted.
I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is proper " if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). " Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who is required to " go beyond the pleadings" to establish that there is a " genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A dispute about a material fact is genuine " if 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The court must construe the evidence and all reasonable inferences arising from it in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, " mere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2005) ( per curiam ) (citing Bald Mountain Park, Ltd. v. Oliver, 863 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)).
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
U.S. Steel hired Snider as an electrical maintenance technician in 1988. Doc. 34-1 at 9. At the time relevant to this lawsuit, Snider worked in the hot finishing plant where he performed trouble shooting and other electrical jobs that " ma[d]e th[e] mill produce pipe." Id. at 9-10. This case arises out of U.S. Steel's response to events that occurred between Snider and employees in the " Bull Gang," who " work[ ] the whole plant" doing " little jobs" like working on cranes, and putting up signs and railroad signals. Id. at 12.
A. The incident involving Snider and the Bull Gang
In April 2010, Snider discovered that the Bull Gang had removed the caution tape on a crane they repaired in the hot finishing plant. Doc. 34-1 at 11. Snider decided to challenge the decision because the crane purportedly appeared unstable and presented a safety hazard. Id. Consequently, the next day, Snider drove to the Bull Gang to confront Joel Moore and others about removing the caution tape. Id. at 13. Snider alleges that he entered the Bull Gang's office and asked in a loud (because he was wearing earplugs) but non-threatening tone why they removed the caution tape. Id. at 12, 13, 14. According to Snider, when Moore showed no regard for Snider's safety concerns and responded instead that the Bull Gang was " going to ...