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Arndt v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 29, 2017

BRADLEY A. ARNDT, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING FORD MOTOR COMPANY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 75)

          Paul D. Borman United States District Judge

         In this disability discrimination action, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Ford Motor Company ("Ford") violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. and the Michigan Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act ("PWDCRA"), by failing to engage in good faith in the interactive process regarding his request to have his service dog accompany him to work as an accommodation for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"), and for failing and refusing to accommodate his PTSD, resulting in Plaintiffs constructive discharge.

         Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 75.) Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 88), and Ford replied (ECF No. 92). The Court held a hearing on November 28, 2016. Following the hearing on the motion for summary judgment the parties engaged in facilitation, which was unsuccessful in resolving the case. For the reasons that follow, the Court now GRANTS Ford's motion for summary judgment.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Bradley Arndt served in the United States Army for 24 years, with numerous deployments in combat zones. It is undisputed that, as a result of his military experiences, he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") and mild traumatic brain injury ("mTBI"). (ECF No. 75-2, Def.'s Mot. Ex. A, Oct. 28, 2015 Deposition of Bradley Arndt 22:20-24; ECF No. 75-5, Def.'s Mot. Ex. D, February 16, 2016 Deposition of Dr. Carol Lindsay-Westphal 37:3-6.)

         Just prior to joining Ford as a process coach in August, 2012, Plaintiff was working as a production supervisor at Faurecia, an auto supply company. (Arndt Dep. 263:12-19.) In the Spring of 2012, Plaintiff commenced a disability leave from Faurecia and ultimately resigned voluntarily from his job at Faurecia. (Arndt Dep. 240:13-241:8, 263:20-264:24.)

         Plaintiff started at Ford in August, 2012, and was hired as a process coach (a manufacturing supervisor) at Ford's Van Dyke Transmission Plant. Arndt worked the afternoon to 2:3 0 a.m. shift in the "clean room" reporting to Vito Evola. (Arndt Dep. 241:13-242:14.) The "clean room" is a climate controlled area of the plant where hourly workers assemble the brains of the transmissions; the parts are susceptible to quality issues and workers wear lab coats. (ECF No. 75-7, Def. 's Mot. Ex. F, October 30, 2015 Deposition of Vito Evola 8:5-15.)

         In February, 2013, Arndt approached Evola and explained that he was having issues at work due to symptoms from his PTSD and mentioned the idea of bringing his service dog, Cadence, to work with him. (Evola Dep. 37:12-38:14.) Evola's first reaction was positive - he thought the dog could be "like a mascot." Evola later reconsidered and thought there might be safety or quality concerns. (Evola Dep. 38:18-39:16.) On Saturday, February 22, 2013, Plaintiff sent an email to Human Resource Salaried Personnel Representative Stephanie Roseman explaining that he had missed work the previous day due to his PTSD and mTBI and asking about the possibility of bringing his service dog, Cadence, to work with him. (ECF No. 88-8, PL's Resp. Ex. 7, February 22, 2014 Email from Arndt to Roseman.) In the email, Plaintiff explained what service animals are trained to do, including calming people with PTSD when they have an anxiety attack, and represented that his service dog is "highly trained" and carried a "certification with the ADA" and had "all of his shots." (Id.)[1] The email explained that he was hesitant in making the request because he feared being discriminated against because of his request, which appeared to have no precedent that he could discover at Ford. (Id.) Ms. Roseman replied to the email first thing Monday morning, February 25, 2013, thanking Plaintiff for trusting her with the information and explaining that she would "do some research on Ford's policies (including issues with service animals in the plant)" and would let him know as soon as possible. (Id.) Plaintiff responded that evening, thanking her for looking into the issue and asking if she got "any resistance" to please just stop pursuing the matter because he did not want his request to tarnish his name. (Id.)

         Ms. Roseman provided Plaintiff with a Disability Reasonable Accommodation Request form, which Plaintiff completed and submitted on February 26, 2013. (ECF No, 88-9, PL's Resp. Ex. 8.) Along with his Reasonable Accommodation Request form, Plaintiff submitted a letter addressed "to whom it may concern, " largely reiterating what he had explained to Ms. Roseman in his February 22, 2013 email and explaining the following list of functions that his service dog could provide to Plaintiff in the workplace:

He is trained to sense when an anxiety or panic attack is going to happen, then he is able to guide me and direct me to a quiet calmer place, he is trained to keep people at arms length from my location, he also watches behind me to keep people from startling me as to not set off a trigger from me, provide Tactile Stimulation during intense moments of stress and panic, and "Watch my back, " he also provides a great deal of comfort and security when he is near, thus giving me the utmost confidence to perform my job.

(ECF No. 88-9, PL's Resp. Ex. 8 at 2, PgID 3187.) Plaintiff noted on the request form that his request was "time sensitive" because any delay could result in his absence from the work place. (Id.)

         On March 13 (or 14), 2013, Plaintiff met with the Van Dyke plant doctor, Dr. Arthelia Brewer, regarding his accommodation request. (ECF No. 75-6, Def. 's Mot. Ex. E, November 4, 2015 Deposition of Arthelia J. Brewer, M.D. 30:19-31:4.) Plaintiff testified that at the March 13, 2013 meeting, Dr. Brewer commented on his extensive resume and suggested that there was surely some position that would be available for Plaintiff, perhaps in Dearborn or perhaps "here" at the Van Dyke plant, and it would all be "open to discussion." (Amdt Dep. 191:24.-192-19.) Dr. Brewer completed a Visit Summary Report summarizing the purpose of the visit, i.e. to discuss Plaintiffs ADA request to bring his service dog to the workplace due to PTSD. (ECF No. 88-10, PL's Resp. Ex. 9, 3/14/13 Visit Summary Report.) Dr. Brewer summarizes Plaintiffs history of PTSD and notes as follows: "(1) Release of information form given employee for completion to allow verbal and written communication with the social worker, psychologist and psychiatrist at the VA. (2) Will work with HR to see if an accommodation can be made. However, there are H&S concerns with allowing a dog in the manufacturing area." (Id. at 2.)

         The day after meeting with Dr. Brewer, on March 15, 2013, Plaintiff formally withdrew his accommodation request. (Arndt Dep. 191:5-l 1; ECF No. 88-12, PL's Resp. Ex. 11, March 15, 2013 email from Plaintiff to Roseman, PgID 3191-92.) Plaintiff testified that he withdrew his request because he received some negative feedback from his supervisor Vito Evola and because he did not want to transfer to a Dearborn location. (Arndt Dep. 199:5-21.) He was "scared of going to a new environment, a new place, a new job." (Arndt Dep. 199:10-11.) Plaintiff testified that after he met with Dr. Brewer he went back to Ms. Roseman and was upset that Dr. Brewer brought up possibly transferring to Dearborn. (Arndt Dep. 183:21-184:4.) He told Ms. Roseman that he had some concerns with "the high population of Arabs in Dearborn, " that "seeing people walking down the street in a burka" could cause flashbacks - it presented a "much greater case" for his PTSD than the plant environment. (Arndt Dep. 184:5-17.) Plaintiff had "concern that it would cause [him] undue stress and flashbacks working around a lot of Arabs, " and he was "angry" when he talked to Ms. Roseman about the possibility of a move to Dearborn both because he liked his job at the Van Dyke plant and did not want to relocate and because he feared "seeing people walking around in burkas" would set off flashbacks. (Arndt Dep. 185:4-186:12.) Plaintiff testified that he was never formally offered a transfer to Dearborn as an accommodation, but that he and Ms. Roseman discussed it and Plaintiff told her that he was hired to work as a production supervisor, not in the "Glass House" (Ford World Headquarters). (Arndt Dep. 201:1-25.) Ms. Roseman testified that Plaintiff told her he was withdrawing the request because he did not want to be a bother and she told him it was no bother - that they had to engage in the interactive process and that he needed to let the process work and be patient. (ECFNo. 75-4, Def.'sMot. Ex. C, January 19, 2016 Deposition of Stephanie Lovinger Roseman 40:24-41:10.) Ms. Roseman told him if he insisted on withdrawing his request he should put that in writing, and formally retract his request, which Plaintiff did on March 15, 2013. (Roseman Dep. 43:9-12; ECF No. 88-12, Pl.'s Resp. Ex. 11.)

         Following Plaintiff's withdrawal of his February 26, 2013 accommodation request, Ms. Roseman sent an email to Maria Conliffe, the Manager of Equal Employment Planning at Ford, to inform her of what had transpired with Plaintiffs withdrawn request. (ECF No. 88-11, PL's Resp. Ex. 10, March 27, 2013 Email from Roseman to Conliffe.) Ms. Roseman explained in her follow-up email to Ms. Conliffe that because there were concerns with having a service animal (even a trained one) in the plant environment, they asked Dr. Brewer to review the request and Plaintiff s medical file and to meet with Plaintiff to advise on "other feasible and reasonable accommodations." (PL's Resp. Ex. 10, 3/27/13 Email.) Ms. Roseman explained to Ms. Conliffe that Dr. Brewer met with Plaintiff, requested him to provide medical release forms so that Dr. Brewer could speak with his personal physician to discuss the request, and Plaintiff left the meeting with Dr. Brewer and immediately withdrew the request. (Id.) The email explains that Plaintiff indicated to Ms. Roseman that there was information in his personal medical file that no one at Ford needed to know about and that was not relevant to his work and "might scare us, " (Id.) Ms. Roseman was seeking Ms. Conliffe's advice on how to proceed. (Id.) Ms, Roseman was surprised that Plaintiff so abruptly withdrew his request and she sent his retraction request to a number of individuals asking "what do we do with this?" (ECF No. 88-12, PL's Resp. Ex. 11, March 15, 2013 Email from Roseman to Mark Willis, Joan Treves, Arthelia Brewer, Linda Beggs and Vito Evola.) There is no evidence in the record that any further action was taken with regard to Plaintiffs February 26, 2013 accommodation request by either Plaintiff or Ford.

         In early April, 2013, Plaintiff took a medical leave of absence because of factors related to his PTSD. (ECF No. 89-16, PL's Resp. Ex. I, February 16, 2016 Deposition of Carol Lindsay-Westphal, PhD. 39:5-22.) Plaintiff reported to his treating psychiatrist, Dr. Lindsay-Westphal, that he feared at that time that he would "lose his temper and unexpectedly hurt someone." (Lindsay-Westphal Dep, 39:23-25.) Dr. Lindsay-Westphal issued Plaintiff a return to work letter on or about May, 202013, when his symptoms had lessened and he was "back at his baseline symptomology." (Lindsay-Westphal Dep. 50:19-51:14; PL's Resp. Ex. 14, May 20, 2013 Letter from Dr. Lindsay-Westphal "to whom it may concern, " explaining that Plaintiffs exacerbation of his PTSD symptoms had subsided and he was fit to return to work.) Plaintiff returned to work and continued to work in the "clean room."[2]

         In October, 2013, Plaintiff was reassigned by Ford to Machining and began reporting to Steve Sowers. (Arndt Dep. 242:15-23.) Plaintiffs job duties in Machining involved periodically being on the plant floor, checking for safety issues and monitoring productivity and otherwise being at a desk monitoring data regarding production on a computer. (ECF No. 89-19, PL's Resp. Ex. L, October 30, 2015 Deposition of Steven Sowers 9:2-11:7.) When on the plant floor, Plaintiff experienced loud noises from machines and startling interactions with people that were "problematic" for him. (Arndt Dep. 246:6-247:20.) He also was bothered when in his office space, which "closed him in" and exacerbated his PTSD. (Arndt Dep. 247:21-249:8.)

         On October 23, 2013, just weeks after beginning to work in Machining under Mr. Sowers, Plaintiff commenced another medical disability leave. (ECF No. 89-9, PL's Resp. Ex. B, November 4, 2015 Deposition of Arthelia Brewer, M.D. 66:18-20.) This leave extended to February 20, 2014, when Plaintiff was authorized by Dr. Lindsay-Westphal to return to work with the "presence of a service dog, Cadence." (Id.)

         Sometime in early 2014, prior to his return to work, Plaintiff sent Cadence for training with Joseph Tullier, a veteran with PTSD, who trained dogs for the military. In an undated letter addressed "to whom it may concern, " Mr. Tullier confirms that his company, Acadian Canine Training, LLC, agreed to train Cadence in three general areas: (1) "general service dog behavior" including "basic obedience, environmental training, socialization training;" (2) "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder service dog behavior, " such as cue owner's anxiety and redirecting focus, wake owner during nightmares, cue owner when unsuspecting individual walks towards him;" and (3) "Traumatic Brain Injury Service Dog" behavior including "carrying a pack with owner's personal effects, stability assistance, " and location and reminder services." (PL's Resp at 8, Ex. 20, Dec. 2, 2013 letter from Joe Tullier of Acadiana Canine Training, LLC "To Whom It May Concern" at the Department of Veteran's Affairs regarding upcoming training of Cadence.) Plaintiff relies Tullier's testimony to support the claim that Cadence was well trained specifically to handle the stressors that might arise in the Ford Van Dyke factory environment. (ECF No. 88, PL's Resp. 17-18, PgID 3108-09; ECF No. 89-21, PL's Resp. Ex. N, January 28, 2016 Deposition of Joseph Tullier.) Tullier's deposition testimony describes the training that Cadence received in late December and early January of 2014, some of it specific to handling loud noises and several of the stressors that Plaintiff identifies as triggers for his PTSD. Tullier testified that Cadence was undistracted by loud noises, different floor surfaces, bubble wrap underfoot, etc. and passed her "environmental test" with no problems. (Tullier Dep. 62:8-68:9.) Tullier testified that as "far as environmental, [he] did everything possible that [he] needed to do to ensure Brad that he was going to work in any environment." (Tullier Dep. 68:7-10.) Tullier expressly acknowledged, however, that "he didn't have a factory" to test Cadence in but did everything possible to "make loud noises, fast movement, people walking around, etc." (Id. at 68:23-69:2.) Tullier could not recall exactly what Plaintiff had told him about the plant environment at Ford but he was generally aware that Cadence would be going into a plant environment, although he did not know the specifics of the Van Dyke plant, so he did the "max possible" noises, explosions and distractions to ensure Cadence would be good in any environment. (Id. at 70:15-74:13.) Tullier testified that Cadence would survive any environment but that the real concern would be the effect of the environment on his handler, the Plaintiff. (Id. at 74:13 -75:1.) According to Tullier, Cadence was not aggressive and did not have a mean bone in his body. (Id. at 76:7-9.) Tullier could not recall exactly what Plaintiff explained to him about the environment on the plant floor but Tullier expected that the dog would be with Plaintiff at all times on the plant floor and there was no reason why he should not be allowed to accompany him there. (Id. at 87:15-88:25.) In preparation for what Plaintiff might encounter at work, Tullier trained Cadence to be vocal - make a high pitched whine - if people were getting too close to Brad. (Id. at 114:2-21.) He is not a "vice" dog - not going to react in a threatening way - just going to cue Brad that someone is near. (Id. at 117:9-118:1.) If Brad has an anxiety or panic attack, Cadence will nudge Brad so Brad knows he is not alone - it's the two of them - and it snaps Brad out of it and winds him down. (Id. at 118:2-19, ) Tullier knew that Plaintiff had been diagnosed with PTSD but did not recall the particulars of Plaintiff s condition. (Id. at 120:17-121:12.) He put booties and goggles on Cadence and he tolerated them well. (Id. at 122:18-124:10.) Tullier had never worked or even been in a manufacturing facility when operations were up and running, apart from a middle school field trip. (Id. at 109:19-110:20.) Tullier issued his own "registration" certificate for Cadence sometime in early 2014, but there is no official national registry or certification for a dog once it is trained. (Id. at 95:11-97:5.) Tullier testified that no one from Ford ever contacted him about Cadence's training in 2013 or 2014. (Id. at 129:3-25.) While Ford did possess a single-page certificate regarding Cadence's training, there is no evidence that Plaintiff attempted to make Ford aware of all of these details of Cadence's training with Tullier during the interactive process.

         On February 21, 2014, Plaintiff reported to work at the Van Dyke medical department with a medical release from Dr. Lindsay-Westphal authorizing a "return to work with the restriction of presence of a service dog, Cadence." The Return to Work was effective February 20, 2014 and had "no end point." (ECF No. 88-24, PL's Resp. Ex. 23, Return to Work Certification for Ford Motor Company SALARIED Employees.) Plaintiff submitted his formal Disability Reasonable Accommodation Request on February 21, 2014. (ECF No. 88-25, PL's Resp. Ex. 24, "Disability Reasonable Accommodation Request" form.) The specific accommodation he was requesting was "service dog at work." (Id.) The request was marked "time sensitive" so that Plaintiff could "return to work [] possible to be productive for the company." (Id.) In response to the question on the form that asked "what, if any, job function are you having difficulty performing, " Plaintiff responded: "hyper-sensitivity/emotional control/fear loud noise/closed in spaces/people surprising you/all these issues effect [sic] my ability to function daily/my dog takes this away." (Id.) In response to the question on the form "what limitation is interfering with your ability to perform your job or access an employment benefit, " Plaintiff responded: "facing life's small overlooked issues traveling in car anxiety of being around people and startling." (Id.) In response to the question on the form that asked, "If you are requesting a specific accommodation, how will that accommodation assist you, " Plaintiff responded: "Bring my PTSD service dog to work so I can be as productive as possible." (Id.) Plaintiff provided the following additional information:" 1) Traveling to work - issues with traffic to and from with cars on side of the road . . . create hostile memories, service dog enables this travel; 2) my abilities are not impaired to work, it is the environment in which I'm present that causes severe anxiety/fear/transferred memories "flashbacks" to war time environment. Service dog is trained to sense these issues and acts to prevent these issues occurring." (Id. at 2.)

         Karen Humes had replaced Stephanie Roseman as Ford's salaried personnel representative in February, 2014, and Ms. Humes became the point person on Plaintiffs accommodation request. (ECF No. 89-15, PL's Resp. Ex. H, October 29, 2015 Deposition of Karen Humes 31:23-32:11.) Ms. Humes received a phone call from Kathy Shartreau from Unicare, Ford's third party administrator for medical benefits, that Plaintiff was returning to work, moving off of medical leave status and back to active status, (Humes Dep. 27:11-30:3.) The decision to move Plaintiff back to active status was made by Ms. Humes boss, Joan Treves, who was the head of Human Resources for the Van Dyke plant. (Humes Dep. 30:4-6; ECF No. 89-20, PL's Resp. Ex. M, November 5, 2015 Deposition of Joan Treves 6:15-25; 22:3-18.) Because the request to bring a service animal to the plant was a novel issue, and was going to take time for the company to determine, Plaintiff was placed on "no work available" or "unfit to work" status while his request was under consideration. This classification was necessarily so that Plaintiff could continue to receive his full salary and benefits while the company researched and worked through his request to bring the dog to the plant. Ms. Treves explained to Plaintiff that they were in "kind of a limbo state" and were classifying him that way to make sure that his compensation would be continued. (Treves Dep. 78:5-80:14.)

         Ms. Treves was the person directing Ms. Humes through the ADA process. Ms. Treves would be assisting Ms. Humes with understanding the process, knowing what steps needed to be taken to evaluate the request, and checking to see the progress of the exchange. (Treves Dep. 22:3-18.) Ms, Humes would be the individual interfacing with the Plaintiff to understand what the request was and to follow the processes associated with data collection. (Treves Dep. 23:17-23.) Ms. Treves was responsible for interacting with members of management, analyzing data that was collected and ultimately working through to a recommendation. (Treves Dep. 22:13-15.) Ms. Treves had multiple meetings, conversations and email exchanges with Ms. Humes regarding Plaintiff s request. Ms. Treves was responsible for assisting Ms. Humes in making sure that Ms. Humes understood what the processes were. Ms. Humes was a relatively recent hire and was still familiarizing herself with the Ford processes, but Ms. Treves felt that Ms. Humes was very capable of data gathering on Plaintiffs request as she had come from another automotive manufacturing company where she had been an HR professional. (Treves Dep. 23:2~ 24:24.)

         In fact, this was Ms. Humes's first instance dealing with a request for accommodation under the ADA and Ford put together a team of people, (Joan Treves (HR), Les Harris (personnel relations), Maria Conliffe (HR management), Tony Dalimonte (Ford legal), Dr. Heckman (company physician)), to assist her in carrying out the interactive process. (Humes Dep. 32:12-35:2; Treves Dep. 26:19-29:15.) Ms. Humes relied on Les Harris, Ford's head of personnel relations, who directed her to Ford's policies dealing with the ADA, and she relied on Ms. Treves, who instructed Ms. Humes to use the team as a foundation, to take information she received back to the team as she gathered data from the Plaintiff. (Humes Dep. 46:14-49:8; ECF No. 89-13, PL's Ex. F, January 26, 2016 Deposition of Leslie Harris 12:9-18.)

         Ms. Humes and Plaintiffs supervisor Steve Sowers met with Plaintiff on March 4, 2014, to gather information about Plaintiffs specific limitations and how those limitations interfered with his work tasks. (Humes Dep. 79:2-80:3.) Ms. Humes asked Plaintiff what aspects of his job he was unable to do and Plaintiff continually responded that he could perform all aspects of his job but that there were environmental factors that become problematic and he just needed to have his dog with him to alleviate those environmental factors - but Plaintiff kept insisting that there was no aspect of his job that he was unable to perform if he had Cadence with him, Ms. Humes found this contradictory because Plaintiff never could articulate what aspects of his job he was specifically unable to perform. (Humes Dep. 82:17-85:11, 86:17-22.) Plaintiff testified that Mr. Sowers commented at this meeting that Cadence looked like "a lazy dog." (Arndt Dep. 161:16-25.) Plaintiff felt that Ms. Humes continually asking him the same question over and over, "what he could not do, " was condescending. (Arndt Dep. 158:14-160:17.)

         Following the March 4, 2014 meeting, on March 5, 2014, Ms. Humes sent a questionnaire to Dr. Lindsay-Westphal which was incorrectly addressed and was returned to Ford as undeliverable. (ECF No. 88-29, PL's Resp. Ex. 28; Lindsay- Westphal Dep. 156:15-157:10.) Plaintiff states that rather than take affirmative steps to follow up with Dr. Lindsay-Westphal when the return questionnaire was not forthcoming, Ms. Humes dispatched a certified letter to Plaintiff advising that his doctor had not responded to Ford's questions and that Ford had been unable to proceed with his request in the meantime. (ECF No. 88-30, PL's Resp. Ex. 29, 3/25/14 Letter to Arndt from Humes.) In response, Plaintiff personally delivered Ford's questionnaire to Dr. Lindsay-Westphal, which she completed and Plaintiff delivered to Ms. Humes on April 4, 2014. (ECF No. 89-1, PL's Resp. Ex. 31, Primary Care Physician Accommodation Questions and Answers; Humes Dep. 135:21- 136:18.) The following questions were posed by the Ford questionnaire and the following answers were given by Dr. Lindsay-Westphal:

Q: After having examined the employee and reviewed the attached summary of the employee's job, is the employee able to perform the essential functions of the job without any accommodation? If not, what functions is the employee unable to perform?
A: In my professional opinion, Mr. Arndt is very capable of the skills required for a process coach. His biggest obstacle is the ordinary events that come with maintaining a full time job, such as transportation and unexpected negative interactions with strangers and co-workers. For example, most of us take our commute as a matter of routine, but for Mr. Amdt who may well experience flashbacks of an IED when he sees a broken car parked on the side of the road, these otherwise ordinary incidents become significant obstacles to work. The presence of his trained service dog enables him to maintain his high level of functioning by sensing tension and calming him before the tension becomes problematic.
Q: Please describe the nature of the impairment that prevents the employee from performing the functions of the job identified in your response to (1) above. Describe with specificity the nature and severity of the impairment, and the specific ways in which the impairment prevents the employee from fulfilling the relevant j ob requirements.
A: As indicated in my response to question #1, and verified by the excellent performance reviews he received while working at Ford Motor Company, I am unaware of any functions of the process coach that Mr. Arndt is unable to do. Were he to return to work today, I believe he would again perform the duties well. Over time, however, unless he has his service dog to help him remain calm and well-focused on tasks at hand, his longevity in the workplace is doubtful. In respect to specificity, problems may arise if, for example, Mr. Arndt has a flashback en route to work, is especially distracted and emotionally distressed by intrusive thoughts, feelings and memories around the anniversary of traumatic combat events. In such cases, he may have a difficult time making it to work. In respect to severity, without his service dog, his symptoms are very severe, with the presence of his service dog, these symptoms would probably go unnoticed to all but Mr. Arndt or a mental health professional well trained in PTSD.
Q: Please list any other maj or life activities, other than working, that are substantially limited by the employee's medical condition. .
A: Without his service dog, Mr. Arndt's hypervigilance to danger impairs his ability to relax and venture into new places. With his service dog he is actively working on going into stores, movie theaters, and other public places that previously generated excessive anxiety over potential unexpected dangers.
Q: Are there any accommodations that you believe would permit this employee to perform the requirements of the job? . . .
A: Were Mr. Arndt allowed to have his service dog in his vehicle on his commute to and from work, and under his desk in his office during his shift, the dog would provide the calming interventions that will enable him to complete his job duties.
Q: Please describe with specificity the nature of the medical examination or other measures taken to diagnose the employee with the impairments listed in (2) above.
A: Mr. Arndt has been diagnosed with Postraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by myself, another licensed clinical psychologist at the John D. Dingell VAMC

(Pl's Resp. Ex. 31, dated April 1, 2014.)

         Dr. Lindsay-Westphal testified that although she supplied the return to work for Plaintiff with the restriction of a service dog, Plaintiffs was the first accommodation request she had ever addressed and she did not do any independent research into the service dog's ability to negate Plaintiff s PTSD symptoms but relied solely on Plaintiffs representations of what the dog could do for him. It was Plaintiff who suggested the service dog as an accommodation, not Dr. Lindsay-Westphal, as she had no independent professional knowledge of how the service dog was trained or what he was capable of doing to eliminate the symptoms of Plaintiffs PTSD. (Lindsay-Westphal Dep. 68:5-69:17, 117:17-118:10.) At a session with Plaintiff on February 25, 2014, Plaintiff was accompanied by Cadence and he explained that the dog had just returned from special training in Louisiana and that Plaintiff was happy with the training the dog received. Plaintiff did not describe for Dr. Lindsay-Westphal what he expected the dog to do for him in the context of his work at the plant. (Lindsay-Westphal Dep. 119:10-120:4.) At this session on February 25, 2014, Plaintiff asked Dr. Lindsay-Westphal to sign a medical release so that the Ford doctors could speak with her. (Lindsay-Westphal Dep. 120:5-16.) She testified that she based her opinion that Plaintiff could return to work and perform his job duties on Plaintiffs representations about what his dog could do for him - she has never been on a manufacturing plant floor and thus had no opinion regarding how the dog would assist Plaintiff in that environment. In fact, based on the number of medical leaves Plaintiff had taken from work, she doubted his "longevity" in the workplace and did not know if the service dog could correct his need for frequent absences. (Lindsay-Westphal Dep. 126:4-130:25.)

         Ms. Humes returned to the team after she received Dr. Lindsay-Westphal's responses on or about April 3, 2014, and, after consulting with other team members who had been doing their own research into other aspects of the issue, the team collaboratively came up with a list of specific questions to ask Plaintiff at a second meeting to be scheduled to try to address the missing information still necessary in their view to address Plaintiffs request. (Humes Dep. 200:16-202:6, 216:10-217:25; 266:8-12.) As can be seen by the privilege log produced by Ford, there were several, indeed multiple weekly, meetings/emails/conferences among the team members between April 3, 2014 and the next scheduled meeting specifically addressing Plaintiffs request. (ECF No. 73, Second Amended Privilege Log.)

         Ms. Humes contacted Plaintiff on May 8, 2014, to schedule a second meeting. (Humes Dep. 222:19-224:9.) Ms. Humes gave Plaintiff three dates from which to choose, ultimately agreeing on May 13, 2014, and explained to him that he was expected to come to the plant to attend the meeting. (Humes Dep. 227:8-228:13.) Ms. Humes did not recall whether she told Plaintiff, who was on full paid leave at the time, that a failure to appear on one of those dates could result in disciplinary action, but she did recall that she was having trouble getting him to come to the plant. (Humes Dep. 218:16-10.) Plaintiff states that he was "ordered" to come to the plant and was threatened with discipline if he did not attend the meeting. (Arndt Dep. 46:19-47:6, 138:23-139:12.) Plaintiff was upset by the tone of Ms. Humes email confirming that he would attend the meeting on May 13, 2014, and responded to her email asking about the purpose of the meeting and explaining that it was giving him great anxiety to be kept in the dark about what was going on and asking why he was being summoned and threatened. Ms. Humes never responded to Plaintiffs email, in which he expressed confusion and concern over how long the process was taking and how much trouble he was obviously causing the company. (Arndt Dep. 139:23-143:2; ECF No. 89-2, PL's Resp. Ex. 32, May 10, 2014 Email from Plaintiff to Humes.)

         The meeting took place on May 13, 2014, with Ms. Humes and Mr. Sowers, to go over the questions generated by the team and to gather additional information. (ECF No. 89-4, PL's Resp. Ex. 34, May 13, 2014 Interoffice Memorandum Re: Brad Amdt/List of Questions ("the List")[3]; Humes Dep. 236:12-238:2; 266:8-16.) As of May 13, 2014, there had been no resolution either way regarding Plaintiffs request to bring the dog to work and the process was still ongoing. (Humes Dep. 91:10-92:4.) Plaintiff appeared at the meeting on May 13, 2014, with his service dog Cadence, and Plaintiff felt that Mr. Sowers was disengaged and judgmental of Plaintiff s request in a negative way because Mr. Sowers would not look Plaintiff in the eye, (Arndt Dep. 220:1-221:8.) Ms. Humes began the May 13, 2014 meeting with the first question on the List, which was: "What job functions, if any, do you believe you are not currently able to perform without accommodation?" (Humes Dep. 236:12-23 8:2; Arndt Dep. 221:6-25.) Plaintiff was very offended by this question which he felt he had answered clearly in their first meeting in March:

Q: All right, so what happened next.
Aradt: Karen said she had more questions to ask. And then she asked the first question, and I said, "I've already answered these questions over and over and over again. I don't feel that you're treating me properly, I don't - you're just asking the same thing of what can't I do, what can't I do, what can't I do." So I reached in my wallet, pulled out my Ford ID, put it on the table, and I said, "This is probably for the best, " and I gave them my Ford ID.
Q: All right. So what - did she get out a full question or did you recognize the question kind of midway through and tell her that that -that's the same thing?
Arndt: No. She said, "What is it can't you do?" Q: All right. And that's when you said I've heard this before ...

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