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Rouse v. Michigan Dep't of State Police

March 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Janet T. Neff


Plaintiff Terry Rouse filed this action against defendant Michigan Department of State Police, his former employer, following his forced retirement in August 2007, after 30 years of employment. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (FAC) alleges two claims: (1) disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), and (2) weight discrimination under Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), MICH. COMP.

LAWS § 37.2202(1)(a). Pending before the Court is defendant's "Motion to Dismiss" (Dkt 30) pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, FED. R. CIV. P. 56. Having fully considered the parties' motion briefs and statements of uncontested facts, the Court determines that oral argument is unnecessary. See W.D. Mich. LCivR 7.2(d). For the reasons, that follow, the Court concludes that defendant's motion is properly denied.

I. Facts

Plaintiff began employment with defendant on June 26, 1977, and was employed as an Operations Lieutenant at the time of his release from employment on August 17, 2007 (FAC ¶¶ 6-7, 25; Def. Concise Statement of Uncontested Facts (CSUF) ¶¶ 1, 32). He was overweight at the time of hire and now weighs 300 lbs., which was his weight at various times during his employment (FAC ¶¶ 20-21). In November 2006, plaintiff was granted medical leave for hip replacement surgery, returning to work on January 24, 2007 (FAC ¶¶ 9-10; CSUF ¶ 12).

After his return to work, plaintiff was required to undergo a requalification examination for gun issuance on May 3, 2007, which he passed (FAC ¶ 11). However, during the rifle familiarization, Detective Mary Pekrul, plaintiff's supervisor, questioned his physical abilities when his knee did not go to the ground, stating that she believed he was still "sick"; she also commented that plaintiff had a handicap sticker on his car (FAC ¶¶ 12-13, 15; CSUF ¶ 25; Pl. Br. Ex 1, Pl. Dep. 195-96). Plaintiff's captain further commented that he noticed plaintiff was out of breath (FAC ¶ 14; Pl. Br. Ex 1, Pl. Dep. 196-97). Shortly after, plaintiff was directed by defendant to undergo a medical examination by his doctor and complete a fitness for duty questionnaire, which determined he was able to perform the essential duties of his job and was fit for duty (FAC ¶¶ 16-17).

Plaintiff was subsequently required to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) by Charles E. Syrjamaki, M.D., selected by defendant, who found plaintiff unfit for duty and morbidly obese (FAC ¶¶ 18-19; CSUF ¶¶ 26-27). Plaintiff was later released from duty and forced to retire on October 1, 2007 (FAC ¶¶ 23-25; CSUF ¶¶ 32, 34).

II. Legal Standard

In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), the court must treat all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those allegations in favor of the nonmoving party. Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439 (6th Cir. 2008); Kottmyer v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684, 688 (6th Cir. 2006), overruled in part on other grds. "A claim survives this motion where its '[f]actual allegations [are] enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are true.'" Zaluski v. United Am. Healthcare Corp., 527 F.3d 564, 570 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544; 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1959 (2007)). Stated differently, the complaint must present "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974.

A motion for summary judgment is properly granted "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)(2). The Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Slusher v. Carson, 540 F.3d 449, 453 (6th Cir. 2008); Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2005). The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of showing that no issue of genuine material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989). Once the moving party has made such a showing, the burden is on the nonmoving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Slusher, 540 F.3d at 453.

III. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's ADA Claim

Defendant argues that plaintiff's ADA claim fails as a matter of law because it is based on an allegation that he was regarded as a person with a disability, 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)(C) and § 12102(3), and ...

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