United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
McBRYDE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
for consideration the motion of defendants, Ben E. Keith
Company ("Ben E. Keith") and Ben E. Keith Company
Injury Benefits Plan, for summary judgment. Plaintiff,
Derrick Johnson, has filed a response, and defendants have
filed a reply. Having considered the motion, the
response, the reply, the entire summary judgment
record, and applicable authorities, the court concludes that
defendants' motion should be granted.
initiated this action on November 4, 2016 by the filing of an
original complaint. On January 23, 2017, plaintiff filed his
first amended complaint, in which he asserted the following
claims and causes of action against defendants: (1)
violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the
"ADA"); (2) violations of the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"); and (3)
Summary Judgment Motion
plaintiff's ADA claims, defendants contend that summary
judgment is warranted because the undisputed facts establish
that plaintiff was not a qualified individual with a
disability. Moreover, defendants maintain that although
plaintiff never requested an accommodation, Ben E. Keith
provided plaintiff with a reasonable accommodation for his
work injury. Defendants also argue that plaintiff cannot
prove that he was terminated because of his disability.
Rather, defendants assert that plaintiff was terminated after
he failed to return to work when released by a qualified
medical provider. Defendants contend that plaintiff's ADA
claims arise from nothing more than plaintiff's
subjective belief of discriminatory animus. As to
plaintiff's ERISA claims, defendants argue that the Plan
Administrator's decision was not arbitrary and capricious
and thus did not constitute an abuse of discretion.
Defendants also contend that plaintiff's negligence claim
fails as a matter of law because plaintiff cannot prove that
defendants breached a duty that proximately caused
Summary Judgment Principles
56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that the
court shall grant summary judgment on a claim or defense if
there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The summary
judgment movant bears the initial burden of showing that
there is no genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 325 (1986). The
movant can carry this burden by pointing out the absence of
evidence supporting one or more essential elements of the
nonmovant's claim, "since a complete failure of
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial." Id. at 323.
the movant has carried its burden under Rule 56(a), the
nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record and
articulate the precise manner that creates a genuine dispute
of material fact. Id. at 324; see also
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) ("A party asserting that a fact ...
is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . .
citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .
.") A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of
the case under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about
a" material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that
a rational fact finder could resolve the dispute in favor of
either party. Id.
standard for granting a motion for summary judgment is the
same as the standard for rendering judgment as a matter of
law. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. If the record
taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the nonmovant, there is no genuine dispute for trial
and summary judgment is appropriate. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. V. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 597;
see also Boeing Co. v. Shipman, 411 F.2d 365, 374-75
(5th Cir. 1969) (en banc) (explaining the standard to be
applied in determining whether the court should enter
judgment on motions for directed verdict or for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict).
following is an overview of evidence pertinent to the motion
for summary judgment that is undisputed in the summary
was employed by Ben E. Keith as a Route Service Associate
Trainee - DOT ("Driver Trainee") in its food
service division. Doc. 33 at 5, ¶ 3. As a Driver Trainee,
plaintiff was responsible for delivering product along
assigned routes consisting of multiple stops with various
levels of difficulty, assembling customer orders to be
delivered to places of business, maintaining delivery time
windows for each stop on the route, and maintaining accuracy
of delivered product with no damage due to mishandling, among
other responsibilities. Id. at 62. The position was
very physical in nature. Id. at 6, ¶ 5. Even
pre-trip truck inspections required substantial physical
activity, including repeated bending, stooping, pulling ramps
out of the truck, and checking the product to be delivered.
Id. During the hiring process, plaintiff was
physically tested to determine whether he was physically
qualified for the position. Id. at 16, Johnson Dep.
18:4-8; see id. at 64.
about December 19, 2014, plaintiff fell while delivering
product to a barbeque restaurant. See Doc. 33 at 20,
Johnson Dep. 36:18-20. Near the end of his shift, plaintiff
was maneuvering a dolly loaded with 200 pounds of product
down the ramp of his truck when the dolly struck what
plaintiff described to be a bracket plate that had popped up
from the truck ramp. See id. at 24, Johnson ...