United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
BILLY B. LAUN II, D.D.S., Plaintiff,
THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA d/b/a/ AUGUSTA UNIVERSITY, Defendant.
RANDALL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Board of Regents of the University
System of Georgia d/b/a Augusta
University's("Defendant") motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 21.) The Clerk of Court gave Plaintiff Billy
B. Laun II, D.D.S. ("Plaintiff") timely notice of
Defendant's motion, the summary judgment rules, the right
to file affidavits or other materials in opposition, and the
consequences of default. (Doc. 22.) Therefore, the notice
requirements of Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d
822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985) (per curiam) have been satisfied.
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (Doc. 27), and
Defendant filed a reply in support (Doc. 33) . The time for
filing materials in opposition has expired, and the motion is
ripe for consideration. Upon review of the evidence of
record, relevant law, and the Parties' respective briefs,
Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 21) is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
pending claims against Defendant are as follows: (1)
disability discrimination claims under Titles I and II of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et
seq. ("ADA") and Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, et
seq. and (2) a breach of contract
claim. The Court provides below the facts
directly relevant to Plaintiff's disability
discrimination and breach of contract claims.
on July 1, 2012, Plaintiff was a resident in the Advanced
Education Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery ("OMFS")
Residency Program ("Residency Program") at the
Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University ("Dental
College"). (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat. Facts,
Doc. 28, ¶ 1.) On June 2, 2016, Plaintiff was terminated
from the Residency Program. (Id.)
early as November of 2012, Dr. Henry Ferguson, D.M.D,
professor and faculty member in the OMFS Department, and Dr.
Mark Stevens, D.D.S., Chairman of the OMFS Department, began
receiving complaints about Plaintiff from faculty members and
employees. (Dr. Ferguson's Aff., Doc. 21-7, ¶¶
2, 19; Dr. Stevens's Aff., Doc. 21-6, ¶¶ 2,
16.) Dr. Ferguson authenticated twenty-six communications
from individuals complaining about Plaintiff's behavior
spanning from November 1, 2012, to June 23, 2015. (Dr.
Ferguson's Aff., ¶¶ 20-21; Doc. 21-7, Exs.
4-25.) The complaints concerned Plaintiff's "rude
and insubordinate behavior" and "ability to safely
care for and treat patients." (Dr. Ferguson's Aff.,
¶¶ 20-21.) Dr. Ferguson also stated that "[i]n
addition to the complaints I was informed of, I also had
several personal encounters with [Plaintiff] where [he] acted
in a rude, disobedient, or insubordinate manner."
(Id. ¶ 22.)
complaints also included concerns about Plaintiff's
clinical judgment. (See, e.g., Oct. 31, 2014 Email
from Dr. Salgueiro, Doc. 21-7, Ex. 11, at 39 ("He is not
aware of his limitations and lacks good clinical judgment. He
is disrespectful, confrontational and unable to follow
directions. He argues about every  clinical decision and
does not know when to stop. All th[ese] things make him
unreliable and dangerous. I do not feel comfortable assuming
the liability for the things he does in the clinic and I am
very uncomfortable with him caring for hospital and major
Plaintiff appeared to have issues following the proper
procedure when leaving the clinic. Specifically, Dr. Stevens
reported to Dr. Ferguson that "[o]n September 10th[, ]
[2014, ] [Plaintiff] left the clinic for a case at the
hospital on another service without getting permission from
the director of training program or chairman. This was a
dereliction of duty." (Oct. 14, 2014 Email from Dr.
Stevens, Doc. 21-6, Ex. 27, at 55.)
unclear if the complaints and issues from 2012 through the
end of 2014 prompted Dr. Ferguson or others to verbally
counsel Plaintiff. (Compare Dr. Ferguson's Aff.,
¶ 24, with Pl.'s Decl., Doc. 27-2, ¶
96.) Beginning in March of 2015, however, Dr. Ferguson began
reporting Plaintiff's alleged misconduct. On March 13,
2015, Dr. Ferguson found that similar to the September 14,
2014 incident, Plaintiff participated in a surgical case with
another department "without clearance from either an
OM[F]S Chief Resident or attending faculty." (Mar. 13,
2015 Code of Conduct Violation Memo., Doc. 21-7, Ex. 31, at
70.) Dr. Ferguson reported the March 13, 2015 incident to Dr.
Philip J. Hanes, D.D.S., M.S., Associate Dean for Advanced
Education at the Dental College, as a Code of Conduct
violation. (Id.; Dr. Hanes's Aff., Doc. 21-5,
7, 2015, Plaintiff pled guilty to this charge as a first
offense. (Mar. 16, 2016 Recommendation from Code of Conduct
Hr'g, Doc. 21-4, Ex. 14, at 63.) In June of 2015,
Plaintiff changed his plea to not guilty and, thereafter, a
Code of Conduct Investigative Subcommittee was appointed to
evaluate the evidence. (Id.) The Investigative
Subcommittee found sufficient evidence that Plaintiff was
guilty and recommended that a Code of Conduct hearing be
convened. (Id.) A year after the incident, on March
14, 2016, a hearing was held. (Id. at 64.) Plaintiff
failed to attend the hearing, was found guilty as charged,
and was placed on Administrative Probation for the remainder
of the Residency Program. (Id.)
the year between Plaintiff being charged with his first Code
of Conduct violation and the hearing for that violation,
important events took place. On June 4, 2015, Plaintiff's
co- resident, Dr. Becky Paquin, complained to Dr. Stevens
about an interaction she had with Plaintiff where she found
Plaintiff to be aggressive. (Dr. Paquin's Letter to Dr.
Stevens, Doc. 21-6, Ex. 28, at 56-58.) Dr. Paquin stated that
Plaintiff repeatedly called her a "bitch, " and she
quoted Plaintiff as stating, "If I find out anyone is
backstabbing me again, I am not afraid to go to jail."
(Id. at 56.) In response, Dr. Stevens and Dr.
Ferguson informed Plaintiff that his behavior was
"highly unprofessional" and they were placing him
on administrative leave for two weeks as a result. (June 5,
2015 Letter to Pl., Doc. 21-7, Ex. 34, at 75-76.) Then, on
June 7, 2015, Dr. Ferguson filed a second Code of Conduct
violation against Plaintiff, which prompted another
subcommittee to investigate the June 4, 2015 complaint. (June
7, 2015 Code of Conduct Violation Memo., Doc. 21-7, Ex. 35,
2, 2015, the subcommittee reported that although there was
"no reason to doubt Dr. Paquin's version of events,
none of her specific allegations of unprofessional conduct
between the two of them can be substantiated." (July 2,
2015 Subcommittee Report, Doc. 21-4, Ex. 6, at 39.)
Therefore, the subcommittee found "insufficient grounds
to further pursue these accusations of unprofessional
conduct." (Id. at 40.) Despite this, the
subcommittee noted concerns with Plaintiff, specifically the
number of individuals who expressed apprehensions with
Plaintiff's "recalcitran[t] [personality],
unconventional perspectives, and unwillingness to comply with
routine and reasonable requests in a non-confrontational
manner." (Id.) Furthermore, the subcommittee
noted that "more than one respondent . . . suggested
that [Plaintiff] has unconventional practice philosophies and
pushes the limits of what might be considered prudent,
particularly with sedation." (Id.) Lastly, the
subcommittee confidentially reported "[t]he speculative
reports that several individuals were fearful that
[Plaintiff] could experience a personal breakdown in rational
thought and proceed to violence (firearms)."
(Id. at 41.)
26, 2015, a meeting was held between Plaintiff and Dr. Carol
Lefebvre, D.D.S., M.S., Dean of the Dental College; Dr.
Ferguson; Dr. Hanes; Debra Arnold, Director of Employee
Relations in the Human Resources Division at Augusta
University; and James Rush, J.D., Chief Integrity Officer for
Augusta University and other affiliated organizations.
(Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat. Facts, ¶ 53; Dr.
Lefebvre's Aff., Doc. 21-4, ¶¶ 1-2; Ms.
Arnold's Aff., Doc. 21-8, ¶¶ 2-3; Mr.
Rush's Aff., Doc. 21-11, ¶¶ 2-3.) At the
meeting, Plaintiff was informed he would be "placed on
administrative leave until he completed a fitness for duty
evaluation." (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat. Facts, ¶
53.) "In August of 2015, Plaintiff underwent evaluations
through Vanderbilt University's Comprehensive Assessment
Program ('VCAP')." (Id. ¶ 55.)
After evaluation, VCAP informed Mr. Rush - Plaintiff's
sole point of contact during this time - that Plaintiff was
unfit for duty and further treatment was recommended.
(Id. ¶ 56.)
the next few months, Plaintiff completed follow-up treatment
at the Professional Renewal Center ("PRC") in
Kansas. (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat. Facts, ¶ 57.) At
the end of his time at the PRC, the PRC provided two reports:
a "Fitness for Duty/Facility Summary'' (PRC
Fitness for Duty Report, Doc. 27-2, Ex. 4, at 31-35) and a
"Treatment Report" (PRC Treatment Report, Doc.
27-2, Ex. 5, at 39-51) (collectively, "PRC
Reports"). The PRC Reports are discussed in further
detail below relating to Plaintiff s failure to accommodate
claim. In general, however, the PRC Reports found that as
long as Plaintiff complied with certain recommendations, he
was fit to return to duty. (PRC Fitness for Duty Report, at
32 ("With his aftercare plan fully in place, his full
compliance with all elements of that plan, and his continued
commitment to skill maintenance and development, we see no
impediment to his return to residency.").)
to his return to the Residency Program, Dr. Lefebvre sent
Plaintiff a letter explaining her expectations of Plaintiff
upon his return and stating that if Plaintiff failed to meet
those expectations, he would be immediately terminated. (Nov.
11, 2015 Letter from Dr. Lefebvre, Doc. 21-4, Ex. 11, at
54-55.) On December 14, 2015, Dr. Stevens and Mr. Rush met
with Plaintiff to discuss their expectations of Plaintiff
upon his return to the Residency Program. (Pl.'s Resp. to
St. Mat. Facts, ¶ 66.) They informed Plaintiff he was
being placed on a six-week assessment and probationary
returning to the Residency Program, Plaintiff filed an EEO
complaint with Glenn Powell, Director of the Office of
Employment Equity at Augusta University, alleging he was
discriminated against for being "perceived as"
having a disability. (Dec. 1, 2015 EEO Compl., Doc. 21-10,
Ex. 2, at 18-20; Mr. Powell's Aff., Doc. 21-10,
¶¶ 1-2.) Mr. Powell's preliminary investigation
found no evidence to support Plaintiff s allegations of
disability discrimination because the reasons Plaintiff
believed he was treated negatively were unrelated to
Plaintiff being perceived as having a disability. (Pl.'s
Resp. to St. Mat. Facts, ¶ 65; Mr. Powell's
Preliminary Report, Doc. 21-10, Ex. 4, at 34-35.)
then returned to the Residency Program. Following the
conclusion of Plaintiff's assessment and probationary
period, Dr. Stevens provided Plaintiff with the faculty's
evaluation of Plaintiff, which also included recommendations
for improvement. (Feb. 12, 2016 Faculty Evaluation, Doc.
21-6, Ex. 29, at 59-63.) On February 19, 2016, Dr. Stevens
provided Plaintiff with a second memorandum concerning
expectations for Plaintiff's improvement, which Plaintiff
tore up in front of Dr. Stevens. (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat.
Facts, ¶¶ 67-72; see Picture of Shredded
Memo., Doc. 21- 6, Ex. 30, at 65.) Later, Plaintiff signed a
copy of the February 19, 2016 memorandum with reservations.
(Feb. 19, 2016 Memo, from Dr. Stevens, Doc. 21-6, Ex. 31, at
incident occurred on March 1, 2016. Denise Webster, Legal
Services Coordinator in Augusta University's Legal
Affairs Office, reported to Chris Melcher, Executive Vice
President for Legal Affairs at Augusta University, an
incident involving Plaintiff that occurred on March 1, 2016.
(Ms. Webster's Memo., Doc. 21-4, Ex. 13, at 61-62.) In
sum, Ms. Webster stated that Plaintiff called the Legal
Affairs Office to speak with an attorney because "[Mr.]
Rush was not being responsive enough to him."
(Id. at 61.) Ms. Webster informed Plaintiff that she
was "instructed to tell [Plaintiff] that the only person
on campus that he was allowed to speak with would be [Mr.]
Rush." (Id.) Ms. Webster reported that
Plaintiff then became aggressive towards her and threatened
her with her job. (Id. at 61-62.) The interaction
made Ms. Webster "uncomfortable about [Plaintiff] being
on this campus" and fearful because she believed
Plaintiff "unstable and [able to] do harm."
(Id. at 62.) Mr. Melcher reported the incident to,
among others, Dr. Lefebvre. (Mar. 2, 2016 Email from Mr.
Melcher, Doc. 21-4, Ex. 13, at 59-62.)
March 3, 2016, Dr. Lefebvre placed Plaintiff on
administrative leave. (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat. Facts.,
¶ 76.) Ms. Arnold investigated the March 1, 2016
incident. (Id. ¶ 77.) Ms. Arnold found that
Plaintiff "violated [W]ork [R]ule #18[:] Threatening,
engaging in threatening behavior (physical/verbal), or
fighting in the workplace towards a co-worker, supervisor,
patient, or any individual within the institution or
enterprise." (Apr. 11, 2016 Report by Ms. Arnold, Doc.
21-8, Ex. 5, at 44-45.)
April 20, 2016, Dawn Gantt, Dr. Lefebvre's assistant,
reported another incident involving Plaintiff. (Apr. 20, 2016
Memo, from Ms. Gantt, Doc. 21-8, Ex. 6, at 47.) Plaintiff
came to Dr. Lefebvre's office to complain that he was not
"getting cases the way other Residents [were]."
(Id.) Plaintiff became angry and Dr. Lefebvre asked
Plaintiff to leave or she would call public safety.
(Id. at 47-48.) After Ms. Gantt asked Plaintiff to
leave around five times, he finally left to speak with Dr.
Kevin B. Frazier. (Id. at 48.)
April 22, 2016, Dr. Stevens issued Plaintiff a final warning
letter ("Final Warning") based on the March 1, 2016
violation of Work Rule #18 and Plaintiff's continued
behavioral issues. (Final Warning, Doc. 21-6, Ex. 37, at
81-83, 85.) The Final Warning specified that "any
further violations of [Augusta University] work rules, OM[F]S
department guidelines, or your [i]mprovement plan will result
in discharge from the OM[F]S residency program and Augusta
University. Should another event occur, you will be
immediately suspended, an investigation will be conducted and
the final outcome will determine your status."
(Id. at 85.)
final incident occurred on May 17, 2016, when Plaintiff was
supposed to be at the clinic. (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat.
Facts, ¶ 88.) Staff could not locate Plaintiff, so they
paged him. (Id.) Instead of returning directly to
the clinic after receiving the page, Plaintiff went to Dr.
Ferguson's office and a verbal altercation ensued with
Plaintiff raising past issues and Dr. Ferguson asking
Plaintiff to leave his office multiple times. (Id.
¶¶ 89-91; May 27, 2016 Report by Ms. Arnold &
Mr. Rush, Doc. 21-8, Ex. 8, at 54-56.) Plaintiff left Dr.
Ferguson's office but returned after clinic and began
another verbal exchange. (Pl.'s Resp. to St. Mat. Facts,
Arnold and Mr. Rush investigated the May 17, 2016 events.
(May 27, 2016 Report by Ms. Arnold & Mr. Rush, at 54-56.)
Ms. Arnold and Mr. Rush reported that on May 17, 2016,
Plaintiff "violated the expectations set forth in his
[F]inal [W]arning and therefore the department [would] need
to determine the action to be taken." (Id. at
Lefebvre, Dr. Hanes, Dr. Stevens, and Dr. Ferguson, with
input from Mr. Rush, Ms. Arnold, and Anthony Hightower,
decided termination was the proper action. (Pl.'s Resp.
to St. Mat. Facts, ¶ 95.) On June 2, 2016, Dr. Stevens
presented Plaintiff with a letter notifying him of his
termination ("Termination Notice"). (Id.
¶ 96; Termination Notice, Doc. 21-8, Ex. 9, at 57-58.)
The Termination Notice stated that Plaintiff was terminated,
effective immediately, for violating "Work Rule #4: Rude
or discourteous behavior toward patients or other persons at
Augusta University" and "Work Rule #13:
Insubordination or willful disobedience." (Termination
Notice, at 57.)
termination, Plaintiff's counsel sent Defendant a letter
stating that Defendant made a promise in the Code of Conduct
section of the Resident Handbook to "conduct an
investigation and allow the accused resident to participate
in a formal hearing to address allegations against him,
" yet Defendant failed to follow those procedures. (June
13, 2016 Letter from Pl.'s Counsel, Doc. 27-2, Ex. 6, at
55.) Thereafter, Defendant provided Plaintiff with an
investigation and a hearing held on July 26, 2016. (Pl.'s
Resp. to St. Mat. Facts, ¶¶ 100, 105.) The hearing
subcommittee determined that Plaintiff was guilty and
recommended he receive "Administrative Probation with
Restrictions." (July 27, 2016 Recommendation from Code
of Conduct Hr'g, Doc. 21-4, Ex. 21, at 95.)
Plaintiff's termination was ultimately upheld on August
1, 2016, by Dr. Lefebvre, and on August 12, 2016, by Brooks
Keel, Augusta University's President. (Aug. 1, 2016
Letter Upholding Termination, Doc. 21-4, Ex. 22, at 98-99;
Aug. 12, 2016 Letter Upholding Termination, Doc. 21-4, Ex.
23, at 100.)
Plaintiff filed a new disability discrimination complaint
where he claimed he was discriminated against and not
provided the reasonable accommodation of mediation prior to
termination. (Pl.'s Discrimination Compl. and Request for
Mediation, Doc. 21-10, Ex. 5, at 36-38.) Mr. Powell reviewed
Plaintiff's discrimination complaint and request for
mediation and, by letter dated July 25, 2016, found that
mediation was not a reasonable accommodation because
"[m]ediation is [v]oluntary"; "[b]oth Parties
must agree on the outcome"; and "[m]ediation is not
the proper venue to address serious, formal employment
actions." (July 25, 2016 Letter from Mr. Powell, Doc.
21-10, Ex. 6, at 58-59.)
then filed a case in the Superior Court of Richmond County on
May 18, 2016, and amended the complaint for the first time on
September 19, 2016. (See Docs. 1-13, 1-18.)
Plaintiff states he received his Notice of Right to Sue from
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and on
January 22, 2018, amended the complaint for the second time
adding claims of employment discrimination. (See
Second Am. Compl., Doc. 1-3, at 1.) On February 21, 2019,
Defendant removed the case to the Augusta Division of the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
(See Notice of Removal, Doc. 1.)
Court should grant summary judgment only if "there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a) . The purpose of the summary judgment rule is to
dispose of unsupported claims or defenses, which, as a matter
of law, raise no genuine issues of material fact suitable for
trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-24 (1986). Facts are "material" if they could
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of those material facts
"is 'genuine' . . . [only] if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Id. "The mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[nonmovant's] position will be insufficient" for a
jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
Id. at 252; accord Gilliard v. Ga. Dep't of
Corrs., 500 F.App'x 860, 863 (11th Cir. 2012) (per
required, this Court will view the record evidence "in
the light most favorable to the [nonmovant], "
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), and will "draw all justifiable
inferences in [Plaintiff's] favor." United
States v. Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d 1428,
1437 (11th Cir. 1991) (en banc) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Additionally, the party opposing summary judgment
"may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials in
its pleadings. Rather, its responses . . . must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial." Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1576-77
(11th Cir. 1990).
Court now addresses Defendant's arguments that summary
judgment is appropriate for Plaintiff's (A) disability
discrimination claims and (B) breach of contract claim.
brings claims under the Rehabilitation Act and ADA. Both Acts
prohibit employers from discriminating against an otherwise
qualified individual with a disability. 42 U.S.C. §
12112(a); 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). "The standard for
determining liability under the Rehabilitation Act is the
same as that under the [ADA] . . .; thus, cases involving the
ADA are precedent for those involving the Rehabilitation
Act." Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326
(11th Cir. 2005) (internal citation omitted). The Court
analyzes Plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act and ADA claims in
Plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of discrimination
under the Rehabilitation Act, he must show: "(1) he
had a disability; (2) he was otherwise qualified for the
position; and (3) he was subjected to unlawful
discrimination as the result of h[is] disability."
Garrett v. Univ. of Ala. at Birmingham Bd. of Trs.,
507 F.3d 1306, 1310 (11th Cir. 2007). Although Defendant does
not concede a challenge to prongs one and two - that
Plaintiff had a disability and was otherwise qualified -
Defendant only raises a challenge as to the third prong. (Br.
Supp. Mot. for Summ. J., at 5.) To establish the third prong,
Plaintiff argues Defendant discriminated against him under
the theories of (1) failure to accommodate and (2) disparate
treatment. (Second Am. Compl., ¶¶ 58-59, 67-68,
Failure to Accommodate
discrimination can occur when an employer "fails to
provide a reasonable accommodation" to an otherwise
qualified person "unless doing so would impose an undue
hardship on the employer." Boyle v. City of Pell
City, 866 F.3d 1280, 1289 (11th Cir. 2017). An
accommodation is only reasonable if it enables an employee
with a disability "to perform the essential
functions" of a position or "to enjoy equal
benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its
other similarly situated employees without
disabilities." 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o) (1) (ii),
(iii). The reasonableness of an accommodation depends upon
the specific facts and circumstances of the case. See
Stewart v. Happy Herman's Cheshire Bridge, Inc., 117
F.3d 1278, 1285 (11th Cir. 1997).
employer need not demonstrate undue hardship until an
employee meets his "burden of identifying an
accommodation and demonstrating that it is reasonable."
Frazier-White v. Gee, 818 F.3d 1249, 1255 (11th Cir.
2016) (citing Lucas v. W.W. Grainger, Inc., 257 F.3d
1249, 1255-56 (11th Cir. 2001)). "Moreover, an
employer's 'duty to provide a reasonable
accommodation is not triggered unless a specific demand for
an accommodation has been made.'" Id. at
1255-56 (quoting Gaston v. Bellingrath Gardens &
Home, Inc., 167 F.3d 1361, 1363-64 (11th Cir. 1999)).
is unclear what sort of reasonable accommodation is
appropriate, "an informal, interactive process with the
disabled individual may be necessary." Webb
v. Donley, 347 F.App'x 443, 446 (11th Cir. 2009)
(citing 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(3)) (emphasis in
original); accord Stewart, 117 F.3d at 1286-87. As
provided in 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o) (3), the interactive
process "should identify the precise limitations
resulting from the disability and potential reasonable
accommodations that could overcome those limitations."
employer engages in an interactive process, the employer will
not be liable for failing to accommodate the employee if
there is a breakdown in the interactive process not due to
the employer or there is no reasonable way to accommodate the
employee. See Stewart, 117 F.3d at 1286-87.
Eleventh Circuit, at the summary judgment stage, courts do
not reach the question of whether the employer engaged in the
interactive process unless and until the employee shows he
requested a reasonable accommodation. Spears v.
Creel, 607 F.App'x 943, 948 (11th Cir. 2015) (per
When a request is patently unreasonable, the employer has no
duty to investigate it or begin the interactive process.
[Willis v. Conopco, Inc., 108 F.3d 282, 285 (11th
Cir. 1997)]; Spears . . ., 607 F.App'x [at] 948
.... The same is true if the request does not make a
sufficiently specific demand. Gaston . . ., 167 F.3d
Hargett v. Fla. Atl. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 219 F.Supp.
3d 1227, 1243 (S.D. Fla. 2016). Therefore, the initial burden
is on Plaintiff to show he made a sufficient request for a
reasonable accommodation. Only then will the burden shift to
Defendant to show that it satisfied its requirements under
the ADA by (1) providing a reasonable accommodation or (2) by
engaging with Plaintiff in an interactive process to
determine a reasonable accommodation but no accommodation was
provided because either (a) there was a breakdown in the
process not due to Defendant or (b) there was no reasonable
way to accommodate Plaintiff.
argues that Plaintiff s claim for failure to accommodate
fails as a matter of law because (a) Plaintiff failed to
request a reasonable accommodation (Br. Supp. Mot. for Summ.
J., at 7-9) and (b) even if Plaintiff requested an
accommodation, Plaintiff was responsible for the breakdown in
the interactive process (Reply Supp. Mot. for Summ. J., at
2-7). For the following reasons, the Court finds that there
are genuine issues of material fact as to Plaintiff's
failure to accommodate claim. Thus, the Court denies
Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to this claim.
Request for a ...