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Hall v. Petro Holdings Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 21, 2019

JAYSON HALL Plaintiff,
v.
PETRO HOLDINGS, LLC Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          KARI A. DOOLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This employment discrimination action arises out of the termination of plaintiff Jayson Hall (“Hall”) from his brief employment with defendant Petro Holdings, LLC (“Petro”). Pending before the Court is Petro's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 36.) For the reasons set forth below, Petro's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         Facts[1] and Procedural History

         Petro is a retail distributor of home heating oil. (Def.'s SMF at ¶ 1.) Hall began work for Petro as an oil tank truck driver in November 2014.[2] (Id. at ¶ 5.) On February 23, 2015, Hall reported to Petro that he injured himself in a slip-and-fall while delivering oil. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Thereafter, Hall was unable to return to work because of his injuries, and he began receiving worker's compensation benefits. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Hall was not cleared to return to work for almost a year. (Def.'s Ex. E, ECF No. 39-5.)

         On February 15, 2016, Hall's treating physician approved him for “a light level of work activity.” (Id.) On February 16, 2016, Hall returned to Petro and spoke with Jeff Owens, the On Road Delivery Supervisor. (Def.'s SMF at ¶¶ 8, 20.) Hall showed Owen's his doctor's note and asked to return to work.[3] (Id. at ¶ 8.) Owens informed Hall that he had already been terminated after a meeting between management and the union. More specifically, Hall testified at his deposition that he and Owens had the following exchange:

I said to Jeff, I have a light-duty document from the doctor. He says, step outside. . . . He said, you were fired. I said how come I wasn't notified by a phone call, the union, anybody, management, letter? No. one contacted me. I still, to this day, I never knew the termination date. . . .

(Def.'s Ex. A (“Hall Depo.”) at 88, ECF No. 39-1.)[4] Hall alleges, and Owens denies, that Owens further said that Hall was fired because of his “work ethic” and told him, “look at you; you cannot work.” (Hall Depo. at 88.)

         Hall initiated this action in Connecticut state court in November 2017. On December 19, 2017, Petro removed this action to federal court. Hall subsequently challenged the removal. On January 29, 2018, the Court (Meyer, J.)[5] remanded Count Two of the Complaint, which asserted a claim for retaliatory discharge under the Workers Compensation Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-290a, back to state court, but the Court retained jurisdiction over Count One, which asserted multiple claims of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”), the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen. St. § 46a-60(a) (“CFEPA”), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 28 U.S.C. § 791, et seq. (“Rehabilitation Act”). (ECF No. 17.) On March 2, 2018, Hall filed the Amended Complaint, which removed Count Two. On February 15, 2019, Petro filed the instant motion for summary judgment. Neither party requested oral argument on the motion. Additional facts will be included as necessary.

         Standard of Review

         The standard under which the Court reviews motions for summary judgment is well-established. “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law, ” while a dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Significantly, the inquiry being conducted by the court when reviewing of a motion for summary judgment focuses on “whether there is the need for a trial - whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.” Id. at 250. As a result, the moving party satisfies his burden under Rule 56 “by showing . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case” at trial. PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks omitted). Once the movant meets his burden, the nonmoving party must set forth “‘specific facts' demonstrating that there is ‘a genuine issue for trial.'” Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). “[T]he party opposing summary judgment may not merely rest on the allegations or denials of his pleading” to establish the existence of a disputed fact. Id.; accord Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). “[M]ere speculation or conjecture as to the true nature of the facts” will not suffice. Hicks v. Baines, 593 F.3d 159, 166 (2d Cir. 2010) (citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted). Nor will wholly implausible claims or bald assertions that are unsupported by evidence. See Carey v. Crescenzi, 923 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1991); Argus Inc. v. Eastman Kodak Co., 801 F.2d 38, 45 (2d Cir. 1986). “[T]here is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).

         In determining whether there exists a genuine dispute as to a material fact, the Court is “required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought.” Johnson v. Killian, 680 F.3d 234, 236 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Terry v. Ashcroft, 336 F.3d 128, 137 (2d Cir. 2003)). “In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the district court's function is not to weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact; it is confined to deciding whether a rational juror could find in favor of the non-moving party.” Lucente v. Int'l Bus. Machines Corp., 310 F.3d 243, 254 (2d Cir. 2002).

         Discussion

         Petro contends that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Hall's claims under the ADA and CFEPA.[6] In his complaint, Hall alleges that Petro violated the ADA and CFEPA by terminating him based on his actual or perceived disability and by ...


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