United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
S. Krieger Chief United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (# 29), the
Plaintiff's Response (# 32), and the
Defendant's reply (# 37). For the
following reasons, the Motion is granted, in part.
Court exercises jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Laura Waters was a teacher at Columbine Christian School,
part of the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-Day
Adventists (the Conference), from 2008 to 2013. In January
2012, Ms. Waters suffered multiple injuries after falling on
a hill while she was supervising students sledding during
recess. Her injuries required multiple surgeries and time
away from the classroom to recuperate. After a jaw surgery
over spring break during the 2012-2013 academic year, Ms.
Waters was placed on a four-hour work restriction by her
physician, Dr. Randal Jernigan. Ms. Waters had a second jaw
surgery scheduled for May 24, 2013.
2, 2013, Ms. Waters informed Principal May Oles that she had
been “diagnosed with a physical disability” and
was “not sure if she can teach ever again”. When
Principal Oles told Ms. Waters that she wanted to know her
doctor's opinion as to whether or not she courld work,
Ms. Waters responded that she was not making any decisions
about teaching during the 2013-2014 school year until she got
more information from her doctor. Principal Oles initially
asked Ms. Waters to tell her if could return for the next
school year by May 15, but then extended the deadline for
such information until May 21. On May 20, Ms. Waters sent
Principal Oles a text message stating that it was her full
intent to return to teach after a summer of healing.
Oles would have “loved” to have had Ms. Waters
return working with the same accommodations that the school
gave her in 2012-2013, but on May 23 the school board
unanimously decided not to renew Ms. Waters' contract. On
May 30, Dr. Jernigan placed Ms. Waters on a no-work
restriction due to a second jaw surgery. This no-work
restriction continued to June 17 and then from July 23 to
September 5, 2014.
Complaint (# 4), Ms. Waters brings suit
alleging disparate treatment, failure to accommodate, and
retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Conference moves for summary judgment (#
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure facilitates the entry
of a judgment only if no trial is necessary. See White v.
York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995).
Summary adjudication is authorized when there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and a party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive
law governs what facts are material and what issues must be
determined. It also specifies the elements that must be
proved for a given claim or defense, sets the standard of
proof, and identifies the party with the burden of proof.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986); Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. v. Producers Gas
Co., 870 F.2d 563, 565 (10th Cir. 1989). A factual
dispute is “genuine” and summary judgment is
precluded if the evidence presented in support of and
opposition to the motion is so contradictory that, if
presented at trial, a judgment could enter for either party.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a
summary judgment motion, a court views all evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, thereby
favoring the right to a trial. See Garrett v. Hewlett
Packard Co., 305 F.3d 1210, 1213 (10th Cir. 2002).
movant has the burden of proof on a claim or defense, the
movant must establish every element of its claim or defense
by sufficient, competent evidence. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c)(1)(A). Once the moving party has met its burden, to
avoid summary judgment the responding party must present
sufficient, competent, contradictory evidence to establish a
genuine factual dispute. See Bacchus Indus. Inc. v. Arvin
Indus. Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991);
Perry v. Woodward, 199 F.3d 1126, 1131 (10th Cir.
1999). If there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, a
trial is required. If there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact, no trial is required. The court then applies
the law to the undisputed facts and enters judgment.
moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial, it
must point to an absence of sufficient evidence to establish
the claim or defense that the non-movant is obligated to
prove. If the respondent comes forward with sufficient
competent evidence to establish a prima facie claim
or defense, a trial is required. If the respondent fails to
produce sufficient competent evidence to establish its claim
or defense, then the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).
Conference moves for summary judgment on all three of Ms.
Waters' claims, arguing that she cannot ...