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Issacs v. Baltimore City Fire Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 12, 2014

BRYAN ISSACS, Plaintiff,
v.
BALTIMORE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants', Mayor & City Council of Baltimore (the "City"), the Baltimore City Fire Department ("BCFD"), James Clack, and Donald Heinbuch, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 33). Having reviewed the pleadings and supporting documents, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2014). For the reasons outlined below, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff Brian Isaacs was hired by the BCFD as a front-line Firefighter on January 15, 2003. On March 6, 2008, he fell out of a moving fire truck and suffered a serious head injury that left him unable to hear out of his right ear. After the accident, Isaacs was placed on paid injury leave for twelve months. At some point during this period, Dr. James Levy, Director of the BCFD's Public Safety Infirmary, and the BCFD determined that Isaacs was unable to safely and reliably perform all the essential functions of a Firefighter. In light of this decision, Isaacs requested that he be permitted to return to work as an instructor at the BCFD Training Academy.

After Isaacs returned to work as a training instructor on March 30, 2009, he presented several specialized physicians' opinions to the BCFD, each stating he could sufficiently perform the essential functions of a Firefighter pursuant to the National Fire Protection Association 1582 Standard on Medical Requirements. Further, Isaacs requested the opportunity to demonstrate that he could perform the essential functions of a Firefighter through a field performance test. Multiple discussions were held concerning Isaacs's individualized abilities. Nevertheless, Dr. Levy and the BCFD declined to reverse their position barring Isaacs's return to Firefighter status despite the specialized medical opinions and without providing him with the opportunity to demonstrate his abilities through a field performance test.

Isaacs filed an Intake Questionnaire with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which he requested be accepted as his EEOC charge, on December 11, 2009. He received a Notice of Right to Sue on January 5, 2012, and instituted this action on April 5, 2012. Isaacs asserts five claims: employment discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. (2012) (Count One); employment discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (2012) (Count Two); Retaliation (Count Three); violation of his right to equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by way of 42 U.S.C § 1983 (2012) (Count Four); and employment discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C § 1981 (2012) (Count Five). On March 17, 2014, Defendants moved for Summary Judgment on all counts. (ECF No. 33). The Motion is ripe for disposition.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court must grant summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970)). Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (alteration in the original).

A "material fact" is one that might affect the outcome of a party's case. Id. at 248; see also JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001)). Whether a fact is considered to be "material" is determined by the substantive law, and "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Hooven-Lewis, 249 F.3d at 265.

B. Analysis

1. Proper Parties

At the outset, the City is the only proper Defendant to this suit. First, in his Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Isaacs withdrew his claims against the individually named Defendants James Clack and Donald Heinbuch. (Pl.'s Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. ["Opp'n"] 1 n.1, ECF No. ...


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