United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
THERESA L. WEHBY, Plaintiff,
SPRINGER EQUIPMENT COMPANY, INC., Defendant.
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendant Springer Equipment Company, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “Springer”). (Doc. #
45). The Motion (Doc. # 45) has been fully briefed, and the
parties have filed evidentiary submissions. (Docs. # 45, 48,
51, 54). After careful review, and for the following reasons,
the court finds that the Motion (Doc. # 45) is due to be
Relevant Undisputed Facts
is a forklift and material handling company that sells,
rents, and services forklifts. (Doc. # 45 at ¶ 1). It
employed Plaintiff Theresa Wehby (“Plaintiff” or
“Wehby”) for billing purposes from March 2003
through August 2014. (Docs. # 18 at ¶ 12; 45 at ¶
2; 45-2 at p. 65). Plaintiff has filed a claim against
Springer, alleging that it violated the Rehabilitation Act,
29 U.S.C. § 794, because the company failed to
accommodate her request for a certain parking place and, as a
result, she suffered a knee injury in July 2014. (Docs. # 18
at p. 6-9; 45 at ¶ 3; 45-2 at p. 298-300; 45-3 at ¶
to Wehby's departure from Springer in August 2014,
Springer entered into government-related transactions, which
involved the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(“FEMA”) of the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security. (Docs. # 45 at ¶ 12; 45-4 at ¶ 13). In
April 2011, Springer entered into a procurement contract with
FEMA to assist with disaster relief efforts related to
tornado damage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Docs. # 45 at ¶
7; 45-4 at ¶ 4; 51 at ¶ 14; 51 at ¶ 14). Under
that contract, FEMA leased equipment from Springer at
standard rates using Springer's standard price list.
(Docs. # 45 at ¶ 8; 45-4 at ¶ 5, 7-8). In 2005 or
2006, Springer charged FEMA its standard rates for completed
work for FEMA in connection with Hurricane Katrina relief
efforts. (Docs. # 45 at ¶ 10-11; 45-4 at ¶ 10-12).
is also certified under the Small Business Administration
(“SBA”) and is considered a Small Business
Concern (“SBC”) and a Woman-Owned Small Business
Concern (“WOBC”). (Docs. # 51 at ¶ 13-14;
51-14 at p.6; 54 at p. 10). Because of these statuses,
Springer has received protected procurement contract awards
and has qualified for some set-aside contract awards. (Docs.
# 51 at ¶ 8, 15; 51-11). For instance, in November 2012,
Springer entered into a subcontracting agreement with
Raytheon with the help of the SBA's Subcontractor
Assistance Program. (Docs. # 51 at ¶ 24-25; 51-14).
Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant argues that Springer
is not subject to the Rehabilitation Act. (Doc. # 45).
Plaintiff counters that Springer is subject to the
Rehabilitation Act because the company “availed itself
of federal remedial programs.” (Doc. # 48 at p. 1).
Accordingly, this dispute centers on whether Defendant may be
liable to Plaintiff under the Rehabilitation Act.
Summary Judgment Standard
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is
proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any 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 (1986). The party asking for
summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of
informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings which
it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Id. at 323. Once the moving party has
met its burden, Rule 56 requires the non-moving party to go
beyond the pleadings and -- by pointing to affidavits, or
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and/or admissions on
file -- designate specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.
substantive law will identify which facts are material and
which are irrelevant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). All reasonable doubts
about the facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved
in favor of the non-movant. See Allen v. Bd. of Pub.
Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d 1306, 1314 (11th Cir.
2007); Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112,
1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A dispute is genuine “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is
not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.
See Id. at 249.
faced with a “properly supported motion for summary
judgment, [the non-moving party] must come forward with
specific factual evidence, presenting more than mere
allegations.” Gargiulo v. G.M. Sales, Inc.,
131 F.3d 995, 999 (11th Cir. 1997). As Anderson
teaches, under Rule 56(c) a plaintiff may not simply rest on
his allegations made in the complaint; instead, as the party
bearing the burden of proof at trial, he must come forward
with at least some evidence to support each element essential
to his case at trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
“[A] party opposing a properly supported motion for
summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.'” Id. at 248 (citations
judgment is mandated “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., 477 U.S. at 322. “Summary judgment may be
granted if the non-moving party's evidence is merely
colorable or is not significantly probative.”
Sawyer v. Sw. Airlines Co., 243 F.Supp.2d 1257, 1262
(D. Kan. 2003) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at
the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not
himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
“Essentially, 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.'”
Sawyer, 243 F.Supp.2d at 1262 (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52); see also LaRoche
v. Denny's, Inc., 62 F.Supp.2d 1366, 1371 (S.D. Fla.
1999) (“The law is clear . . . that suspicion,
perception, opinion, and belief cannot be used to defeat a
motion for summary judgment.”).