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ACETO v. ENGLAND

August 3, 2004.

JAMES R. ACETO, Plaintiff,
v.
GORDON R. ENGLAND, Secretary, Department of the Navy, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

  This case comes before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The plaintiff alleges discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("the Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. The defendant claims that this court lacks jurisdiction on all six counts of the plaintiff's complaint because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Because the plaintiff has not met his burden of pleading and proving facts supporting equitable tolling, and because the defendant has shown that the plaintiff should reasonably have known of the time requirements, the court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment. II. BACKGROUND

  A. Factual Background

  The plaintiff is an employee of the defendant in Washington, D.C., and is currently stationed at the Anacostia Naval Station as a Motor Vehicle Operator. Def.'s Statement of Material Facts as to Which There is No Genuine Dispute ("Def.'s Statement") ¶ 1; Compl. at 2; Answer ¶ 5. In 1998, the plaintiff suffered a shoulder injury on the job. Def.'s Statement ¶ 10. Since this accident he has been unable to drive a bus, and has not been assigned to do so. Id. ¶ 11-12. Nontheless, the parties agree that the plaintiff has performed the essential functions of his position as Motor Vehicle Operator at all times relevant to this action. Compl. ¶ 7; Answer ¶ 7.

  On October 26, 1999, the plaintiff, while engaged in driving duties for the defendant, was involved in a disagreement with a U.S. Capitol Police Officer regarding whether the plaintiff could legally park a government vehicle in a parking spot designated for handicapped persons. Def.'s Statement ¶ 2. That same day, the U.S. Capitol Police Officer wrote a letter to the defendant complaining about the plaintiff's behavior. Id. ¶ 4 After the plaintiff responded to the letter, the defendant gave him an unsigned draft of a proposed suspension from his job. Id. ¶ 5-6. The plaintiff was never actually suspended. Id. ¶ 9. Rather, the plaintiff was only temporarily assigned non-driving duties. Id. ¶ 7.

  On or about November 8, 1999, the plaintiff suffered another work-related injury, this time to his elbow. Id. ¶ 18 He did not submit a worker's compensation claim until March 6, 2000. Id. ¶ 19. Subsequently the Department of Labor requested that the plaintiff provide additional information and resubmit a current version of the form. Def.'s Mot. ¶ 22, 24. The plaintiff requested and was granted an extension of time to respond. Id. ¶ 23. The plaintiff submitted the completed current version of the form on or about September 11, 2000. Id. ¶ 25. This claim required processing and interaction with other organizations, such as the Navy Public Works Center and the Human Resources Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Id. ¶¶ 29-30. Finally, on February 13, 2002, the plaintiff met with a Navy doctor. Id. ¶ 33. The defendant's employee and agent, Richard L. Waters, was present at this meeting. Id.; Compl. ¶ 22. The plaintiff's medical file was open during the appointment, displaying his worker's compensation form. Def.'s Statement ¶ 34.

  B. Procedural History

  On May 15, 2002, the plaintiff filed a six-count complaint in this court. Compl. ¶ 8-23. In Count I the plaintiff alleges that after the disagreement with the U.S. Capitol Police Officer, the defendant violated Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act by threatening him with a proposed suspension and then suspended him from his driving duties. Id. ¶ 9. In Count II, the plaintiff alleges violation of Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act due to the defendant's denial of a request for a change in his work schedule to the morning shift. Id. ¶ 13. Next, in Count III the plaintiff alleges that defendant discriminated against in violation of Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act when the defendant denied him use of his personal disability parking card while on duty. Id. ¶ 16. In Count IV, the plaintiff complains that the defendant violated Title VII and the Rehabilitation act by failing to take disciplinary action against an employee who threatened him with physical harm. Compl. ¶ 18-19. In Count V, the plaintiff alleges violation of the Rehabilitation Act due to the defendant's refusal to process his worker's compensation claim in a timely manner. Id. ¶ 21. Lastly, in Count VI, the plaintiff alleges that an agent of the defendant was granted unauthorized access to his medical records and/or information without his consent or approval. Id. ¶ 22-23. The defendant now moves to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. Def.'s Mot. at 1.

  III. ANALYSIS

  A. Legal Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment

  Summary judgment is appropriate when "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 a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

  In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] 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 ...


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