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Reichenbach v. City of Columbus

August 16, 2006

CARL E. REICHENBACH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF COLUMBUS, OHIO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George C. Smith, Judge United States District Court

JUDGE SMITH

Magistrate Judge King

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff brings this action against the City of Columbus, Ohio ("City"); the Franklin County, Ohio Board of Commissioners; and Dewey R. Stokes, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Arlene Shoemaker, in their official capacities as Franklin County Commissioners ("County Defendants"). Plaintiff asserts three claims: (1) disability discrimination under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act; 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.; (2) common law negligence; and (3) violations of his federal rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff moves for partial summary judgment against the County Defendants as to Defendants' liability under the ADA and further seeks an award of attorneys' fees (Doc. 77). The County Defendants move for partial summary as to the ADA and the § 1983 claims (Doc. 96). Plaintiff filed a Second Motion for Extension of Time To Further Respond to the County Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 97). The County Defendants filed a Motion for Extension of Time to Reply to Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 99). For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, DENIES Plaintiff's Second Motion for Extension of Time To Further Respond to the County Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, GRANTS the County Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, and DENIES the County Defendants' Motion for Extension of Time to Reply to Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff is an individual citizen of the State of Ohio. He utilizes a wheelchair as a result of prior injuries. On December 9, 2002, Plaintiff made his way to the Franklin County Department of Jobs and Family Services ( "Family Services"). On his way to Family Services, Plaintiff attempted to push his wheelchair down a wheelchair ramp located at 52 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio. The ramp services a surface parking lot for Franklin County employees and is adjacent to Family Services. Plaintiff alleges that his wheelchair became stuck in a hole in the wheelchair ramp and that he fell attempting to dislodge it. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered injuries as a result of the fall. After the fall, Plaintiff pushed himself back into the wheelchair and continued to Family Services.

The sidewalks and ramps along the north side of Fulton Street, including the ramp at issue, were installed by Franklin County in 1979. The City of Columbus has no record of any alterations to the curb ramps or sidewalks at the public facility site in question. The City also has no record of calls or complaints about the defective ramp.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

The standard governing summary judgment is set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), which provides:

The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is genuine; "that is, 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). Summary judgment is appropriate, however, if the opposing party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986).

When reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and must refrain from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).*fn1 The Court disregards all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury would not be not required to believe. Id. Stated otherwise, the Court must credit evidence favoring the nonmoving party as well as evidence favorable to the moving party that is uncontroverted or unimpeached, if it comes from disinterested witnesses. Id.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that Liberty Lobby, Celotex, and Matsushita have effected "a decided change in summary judgment practice," ushering in a "new era" in summary judgments. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1476 (6th Cir. 1989). The court in Street identified a number of important principles applicable in new era summary judgment practice. For example, complex cases and cases involving state of mind issues are not necessarily inappropriate for summary judgment. Id. at 1479.

Additionally, in responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party "cannot rely on the hope that the trier of fact will disbelieve the movant's denial of a disputed fact, but must 'present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.'" Id. (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 257). The nonmoving party must adduce more than a scintilla of evidence to overcome the summary judgment motion. Id. It is not sufficient for the nonmoving party to merely "'show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Id. (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586).

Moreover, "[t]he trial court no longer has a duty to search the entire record to establish that it is bereft of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 1479-80. That is, the nonmoving party has an affirmative duty to direct the court's attention to those specific portions of the record upon which it seeks to rely to create ...


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