United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. Miller United States District Judge
before the court is defendant United Airlines, Inc.'s
motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 13. Plaintiff George
Tsatsaronis responded. Dkt. 16. United replied. Dkt. 19.
Having considered the motion, response, reply, and applicable
law, the court is of the opinion that the motion should be
DENIED in part and GRANTED in part.
an employment discrimination case. Dkt. 1-2. Tsatsaronis has
Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”). Dkt. 13 at 1. In 2016,
United terminated Tsatsaronis's seventeen-year employment
citing attendance issues “caused by his MS
disability.” Id. at 2. Tsatsaronis sued United
in state court to recover for: (1) disability discrimination;
(2) hostile work environment; (3) failure to accommodate; and
(4) retaliation. Dkt. 1-2 Dkt. 13 at 20-37. United removed.
Dkt. 1. Then, it moved for summary judgment on all four
claims arguing that its former employee could not establish a
prima facie case or pretext for any of those claims. See
shall grant summary judgment when a “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.”
fact is genuinely in dispute only if a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Fordoche, Inc. v. Texaco, Inc., 463 F.3d 388, 392
(5th Cir. 2006). “A fact is ‘material' if its
resolution in favor of one party might affect the outcome of
the lawsuit.” Sossamon v. Lone Star State of
Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 326 (5th Cir. 2009).
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548
(1986). “If the moving party fails to meet [its]
initial burden, the motion must be denied, regardless of the
nonmovant's response.” See Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (per curiam).
If the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to
the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing a
genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-movant and draw all justifiable inference in favor of the
non-movant. Envtl. Conservation Org. V. City of
Dall., 529 F.3d 519, 524 (5th Cir. 2008). The Fifth
Circuit has held that “conclusory allegations,
speculation, and unsubstantiated assertions are inadequate to
satisfy the nonmovant's burden in a motion for summary
judgement.” Ramsey v. Henderson, 286 F.3d 264,
269 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Douglass v. United Servs.
Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th Cir. 1996)
(internal quotations omitted).
failed to satisfy its initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact on
Tsatsaronis's first three claims. See Celotex, 477
U.S. at 323. As a result, the court must deny United's
motion as to those claims. See Little, 37 F.3d at
1075. For this reason, the instant motion (Dkt. 13) is
DENIED, in part.
also argued that it is entitled to summary judgment on
Tsatsaronis's retaliation claim because he cannot raise a
triable fact issue on causation and because he
“effectively conced[ed] the point” by failing
“to make any argument to support his retaliation
claim.” Dkt. 13 at 29; Dkt. 19 at 1.
failed to raise a triable issue of fact on his retaliation
claim. See Dkt. 16 at 30. While the record contains
fact issues that could defeat summary judgment on a
retaliation claim, Tsatsaronis failed to raise a fact issue
with respect to this retaliation claim. Compare Dkt.
1-2 at 7, with Dkt. 16 at 30. Initially, he alleged
that United retaliated against him after he filed an EEOC
charge. Dkt. 1-2 at 7. However, at summary judgment, he tied
that claim to an earlier point in time. Id. Namely,
he cited his request for leave as the basis for his claim.
See Dkt. 16 at 30. On this record, Tsatsaronis
cannot raise a fact issue to defeat summary judgment on the
claim he first alleged. For this reason, United's motion
is GRANTED, in part, and his retaliation claim is DISMISSED
United failed to show an absence of a triable issue of fact
on Tsatsaronis's claims for disability discrimination,
hostile work environment, and failure to accommodate, the
instant motion is DENIED, in part. However, because
Tsatsaronis failed to raise a fact issue on his retaliation