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King v. Custom Resins, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

May 20, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. [DN 19]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         According to the Complaint, Mr. Warren King was employed by Custom Resins, Inc. as an Industrial Electrician for just over seven years. [DN 1 ¶¶ 9-10]. Custom Resins employed Mr. King at its Henderson location, a facility that produces nylon polymers in an industrial setting. [DN 19-1 at 1]. Mr. King was tasked with fixing various technical problems that occurred in the plant. [Id.].

         In August 2013, Mr. King was involved in a motor vehicle accident which resulted in a disability in his back. [DN 1 ¶ 11]. Mr. King asserts that this accident affects his ability to stand, walk, twist, and carry objects, among other mobility complications. [Id.]. Later, in 2015, Mr. King's other disability-Carpal Tunnel syndrome-became aggravated and required surgery. [Id. ¶¶ 12, 14]. Mr. King's Carpal Tunnel syndrome affects his ability to use his hands and wrists to grip or carry objects. [Id. ¶ 12].

         Following Mr. King's Carpal Tunnel surgery, he was provided work restrictions by his physician. [Id. ¶ 15]. Mr. King claims that he requested a disability accommodation from Custom Resins and that this request was honored until November of 2015 when Mr. King's direct supervisor requested that he perform work outside of his provided restrictions and accommodation. [Id. ¶ 16]. In response, Mr. King says he engaged in protected activity and complained to this supervisor that the request was outside of his restriction. Mr. King asserts that in response to his complaint, his supervisor, Mr. Homer Watson, verbally attacked him-cussing in his face, slamming cabinet doors, and angrily breaking pieces of work equipment. [Id. ¶¶ 17-18]. After this incident, Mr. King alleges that Mr. Watson “bullied and harassed him and provided him with disparate treatment when compared to similarly-situated employees of [Custom Resins] who did not suffer from a recognized disability[.]” [Id. ¶ 19]. Specifically, Mr. King alleges that he was not paid for required lunch breaks when other employees who did not suffer from a disability or who had not requested a disability accommodation were paid for those times. [Id. ¶ 20]. Mr. King explains that the abuse continued until his employment with Custom Resins was terminated in May of 2016 for absenteeism. [Id. ¶ 21].

         Mr. King alleges that Custom Resins did not terminate him for absenteeism but rather because he engaged in a protected activity and because of his age and disabilities. [Id. ¶ 22]. Mr. King substantiates this assertion by claiming he was replaced by an employee substantially younger and able-bodied. [Id. ¶ 23].

         On November 13, 2017, Mr. King filed a Complaint asserting three causes of action: (1) age discrimination pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (“KCRA”); (2) disability discrimination pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the KCRA; and (3) retaliation pursuant to the ADA and the KCRA. [Id.]. After discovery, Custom Resins moved for summary judgment on each of Mr. King's three claims arguing he failed to establish a prima facie case of each. [DN 19-1]. Mr. King responded and did not oppose the motion as to his age discrimination claim. However, Mr. King argued that the submitted evidence established prima facie cases for both disability discrimination and retaliation. [DN 22]. Custom Resins replied that Mr. King simply reasserted the allegations from his Complaint, allegations which fail to correspond with the submitted evidence. [DN 24].

         II. Standard of Review

         Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying the portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         Although the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         III. Discussion

         Custom Resins moves for summary judgment on each of Mr. King's three claims. The Court will address each of Mr. ...

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