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Chesser v. Montgomery Community Action Committee and Community Development Corporation, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

January 22, 2015

ANTHONY CHESSER, Plaintiff,
v.
MONTGOMERY COMMUNITY ACTION COMMITTEE AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, INC. d/b/a MONTGOMERY COMMUNITY ACTION Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

W. KEITH WATKINS, Chief District Judge.

Before the court is a motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 27) filed by Defendant Montgomery Community Action Agency ("MCAA"). Plaintiff Anthony Chesser filed a response in opposition to the motion (Doc. # 34), to which MCAA replied (Doc. # 36). After careful review of the arguments, evidence in the record, and relevant law, the court finds that MCAA's motion for summary judgment is due to be granted.

I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

The court exercises subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 1331, 1343, and 1367. Personal jurisdiction and venue are uncontested.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

To succeed on summary judgment, the movant must demonstrate "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The court must view the evidence and the inferences from that evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816, 820 (11th Cir. 2010).

The party moving for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This responsibility includes identifying the portions of the record illustrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. ; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). Alternatively, the movant can assert, without citing to the record, that the nonmoving party "cannot produce admissible evidence to support" a material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). If the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish - with evidence beyond the pleadings - that a genuine dispute material to each of its claims for relief exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence allowing a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict in its favor. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001).

III. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

MCAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides social services to economically disadvantaged members of Montgomery County, Alabama. MCAA administers two primary initiatives - a Head Start Program that provides pre-school and early childhood educational opportunities for children under the age of five and a Community Services Program that provides food, energy, and housing assistance to qualifying individuals. Mr. Chesser, a white male, has been employed by MCAA since 1994.

1. Mr. Chesser's Roles at MCAA

In his twenty years with MCAA, Mr. Chesser has held four different positions. When he was first hired, Mr. Chesser filled a generic "utility" role that required him to perform various delivery and repair tasks. After approximately five years in that position, Mr. Chesser transitioned and became one of MCAA's disability bus drivers. He drove an MCAA bus for a number of years before moving to fill a newly created MCAA position - interdepartmental mail courier.[1] When he became the mail courier, Mr. Chesser received a pay increase.

Mr. Chesser worked as MCAA's sole mail courier for approximately five years until August of 2010 when MCAA terminated the position, transitioning Mr. Chesser into a role within MCAA's Support Services Department.[2] Since being transitioned into the Support Services Department, Mr. Chesser has acted as MCAA's supply coordinator for the last four years. He remains in the position, and has been supervised by Support Operations Manager Patrick Standberry for the entirety of his time in the role.[3]

As the supply coordinator, Mr. Chesser is tasked with "work[ing] closely with program staff to identify materials, products, and vendors to meet [program] support needs." (Doc. # 28, Ex. A-1.) The supply coordinator job description specifically makes him responsible for a number of administrative tasks, including "inventory control and management, " the production of requested printouts and reports, the development of "information systems and data records to ensure accurate and prompt response to supply requesters, " and the monitoring of supply usage rates for delivery purposes. (Doc. # 28, Ex. A-1). The job description also notes that an employee must be able to lift fifty pounds to be qualified to fill the position.

2. Mr. Chesser's Physical Condition

On August 31, 2004, while riding in an MCAA vehicle for work-related purposes, Mr. Chesser was in an automobile accident. During the accident, he suffered injuries to his back, neck, and foot. Mr. Chesser asserts that these injuries resulted in him being continuously disabled. In his deposition testimony, Mr. Chesser explained that the injuries did not "really hinder" his ability to successfully perform in either of his prior positions with MCAA - disability bus driver or interdepartmental mail courier. (Doc. # 28-2, at 44). He did note, however, that he provided MCAA with a letter from his family doctor, Dr. Sanchez, on September 1, ...


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