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Demassimo v. Sagamore Hills Township

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 11, 2017

SAGAMORE HILLS TOWNSHIP, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [Resolving ECF No. 37]

          Benita Y. Pearson United States District Judge.

         Defendants Sagamore Hills Township, Paul Schweikert, David Depasquale, John Zaccardelli, Bill Cuprak, and David Hayes have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 37. Plaintiff David Demassimo has responded. ECF No. 44. Defendants have replied. ECF No. 45. For the reasons that follow, the Court hereby grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         The parties stipulated to the following facts[1]:

         1. Plaintiff began employment with Sagamore Hills Township in 1994.

         2. Throughout his employment, Plaintiff held the position of "Laborer" in the Road Department.

         3. The Sagamore Hills Township Board of Township Trustees is the hiring authority for Laborers in the Road Department, and has sole authority to hire, fire, or impose discipline on Road Department employees.

         4. One of the duties of Laborer in the Road Department includes driving and/or operating all Township vehicles.

         5. During his employment, Plaintiff was one of four full time employees that worked for the Road Department.

         6. During Plaintiff's employment, the Township employed one part time employee that worked in the Road Department.

         7. Following Plaintiff's employment, the Township hired one additional part time employee to work in the Road Department.

         8. Each Road Department employee is required to operate Township vehicles.

         9. Plaintiff provided a letter to Sagamore Hills Township from his physician in June 2014 which stated: "David DeMassimo is currently undergoing medical evaluation for newly developed concerning symptoms. I recommend working maximum ten (10) hours per day during winter time." 10. The June 2014 letter from Plaintiff's physician was provided to Sagamore Hills Township attorney Jeff Snell.

         11. Upon receipt of the June 2014 letter, Jeff Snell contacted Plaintiff's physician seeking additional information regarding the "concerning symptoms" and provided the letter to the Township's property and casualty insurance agent.

         12. On July 11, 2014, Plaintiff's physician authored a second letter that stated that Plaintiff experienced "symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain and tightness that was proved exclusively while working during intense and long hours in the winter months plowing snow." The letter further stated that the "symptoms of chest discomfort and difficulties breathing were accompanied by a sense of panic, anxiety, lack of concentration with poor ability to make appropriate professional decisions during that time." It went on to state that: "Mr. DeMassimo describes that he feels incapacitated during these episodes and is extremely fearful of making an error that could harm him or others while operating his specialized vehicles in this compromised condition." 13. On November 24, 2014, Plaintiff was excluded from coverage under the Township's policy.

         14. The named driver exclusion precluded Plaintiff from operating any of the Township's vehicles.

         15. Due to the named driver exclusion, Plaintiff was unable to do the duties of his job that required driving or operating a motor vehicle.

         16. At the time, Plaintiff had sick time available, and was put on leave from employment beginning in November 2014.

         17. Plaintiff's attorneys, including Peter Mapley, worked with the Township attorney, Jeff Snell, to determine what options were available to remove the named driver exclusion and return Plaintiff to work.

         18. On December 3, 2014, Plaintiff's physician provided an additional letter to the Township stating that "Mr. DeMassimo has no driving restrictions, he has full ability to operate motor vehicle[s]." 19. On March 18, 201[5], Plaintiff's physician, in a letter to Peter Mapley, stated: "I recently received your letter with attached job descriptions for Mr. DeMassimo. In your letter you requested my verification regarding Mr. DeMassimo's mental and physical capability to perform his tasks. I reviewed all the listed seasonal items. In my opinion Mr. DeMassimo is capable to resume his professional duties as listed…" 20. On March 19, 2015, Mr. Kerr emailed the March 18, 2015 letter to Allen Jones, an underwriter for Cincinnati Insurance.

         21. Plaintiff was to provide monthly written statements indicating that his medical conditions had not changed, that he had not experienced any issues with ...

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