United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant United Rentals North America,
Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
40) against Plaintiff Philip Callais. For the
reasons that follow, the Motion (Doc. 40) is
a disability-discrimination case. Plaintiff is a veteran who
suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He worked as a
truck driver for United Rentals. United Rentals fired him
after he committed three safety violations in two years. In
response, he sued.
alleges that United Rentals discriminated against him because
he is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. He
invokes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101 et seq., the Louisiana Employment
Discrimination Law (LEDL), La. R.S. 23:301 et seq.,
and a law that prohibits employers from discriminating
against veterans, La. R.S. 23:331. The undisputed facts,
viewed in his favor, follow. See Midwest Feeders, Inc. v.
Bank of Franklin, 886 F.3d 507, 513 (5th Cir. 2018).
October 2013, United Rentals hired Plaintiff as a flatbed
driver at its Gonzales, Louisiana facility. (Doc. 43 at p.
44). His duties included (1) "transporting valuable
equipment to customer locations on time in a safe
manner," (2) "maintaining driver's logs and
complete pre-trip inspections," and (3) "adhering
to all safety requirements particular to equipment."
(Doc. 40-6 at ¶ 8).
United Rentals hired Plaintiff, it provided him its employee
handbook. (Doc. 43 at p. 88). The handbook states that
"employees have a responsibility to make [United
Rentals] aware of any necessary accommodations" by
"contacting] ... [a] human resources representative
without delay." (Id.). Plaintiff never told any
United Rentals human resources representative that he needed
an accommodation for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
(Doc. 56-3 at p. 4).
first few months Plaintiff worked at United Rentals,
Plaintiff did not drive a truck. (Id. at ¶ 20).
He instead performed "assembly work" and
"truck inspection." (Id.). Frustrated with
that arrangement, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
(Id. at ¶ 21). But Plaintiff withdrew the
charge about two months later, when United Rentals allowed
him to drive. (Id. at ¶ 22).
his time at United Rentals, Plaintiff regularly met with a
psychologist for treatment of his post-traumatic stress
disorder. (Id. at ¶ 24). In the course of that
treatment, he filled out a form indicating that he did not
have "a physical impairment that limits his ability to
perform the essential functions of his position." (Doc.
43 at p. 67).
August 2014, United Rentals cited Plaintiff for a
disciplinary violation for failing to conduct a "360
hazard assessment." (Id. at p. 69). This is a
"Level 1 Safety Offense," which "result[s] in
discipline, up to and including termination."
(Id. at p. 81). United Rentals then transferred
Plaintiff to its Plaquemine, Louisiana facility.
(Id. at p. 27).
his transfer, Plaintiff told his new supervisors about his
post-traumatic stress disorder. (Id. at p. 28). They
said that it was "no problem." (Id.). At
this time, Plaintiff neither needed nor requested an
accommodation. (Id. at p. 29).
six months after transferring to Plaquemine, Plaintiff
received a second disciplinary citation for a "Level 1
Safety Offense." (Id. at p. 75). Plaintiff
again failed to perform a "360 hazard assessment";
this time, though, he caused his truck to strike a
"large, metal light pole and knock it to the
committing his second safety violation, Plaintiff decided he
needed two accommodations: (1) two 15-minute breaks during
driving routes and (2) leave from work to attend VA
appointments. (Id. at p. 18). He also asked his
supervisors not to "broadcast" these accommodations
to his co-workers. (Id.). Plaintiff did not request
the accommodations from United Rentals' human resources
department, as United Rentals' policy requires.
(Id. at p. 23). Nor did he update his medical form
to reflect that he needed the accommodations. (Id.).
He nonetheless took the requested breaks and attended his VA
appointments. (Doc. 56-3 at pp. 10-11).
a year-and-a-half later, in July 2016, Plaintiff received
another disciplinary citation for a "Level 1 Safety
Offense." (Id. at p. 85). This was his third
such citation in less than two years. (Id.).
Plaintiff-again-failed to perform the required "360
hazard assessment." (Id. at p. 86). But this
citation was more serious: Plaintiff drove an
"articulating boom off the rear of his trailer while
failing to put the dove tail down," which "could
have resulted in serious injury, including death[.]"
(Id.). Plaintiff acknowledged that he failed to
"take the time to put out cones" and failed to
"do a thorough 360 hazard assessment."
(Id. at p. 88).
Rentals fired Plaintiff five days later. (Id. at p.
54). In response, Plaintiff sued United Rentals for
discriminating against him based on his post-traumatic stress
disorder and veteran status. (Docs. 1, 12). He alleges
discriminatory-termination and failure-to-accommodate claims
under the ADA and LEDL, as well as a veteran-discrimination
claim under La. R.S. 23:331. (Id.).
Rentals moves for summary judgment. (Doc. 40). It asks the
Court to dismiss Plaintiffs disability-discrimination claims
because Plaintiff is not "disabled" under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and even if he were, United
Rentals had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for firing
him. (Doc. 40-1). The Court should dismiss Plaintiffs
veteran-discrimination claim, United Rentals argues, because
Plaintiff cannot point to facts showing that United Rentals
fired or disciplined him for attending any medical
appointment related to his veteran benefits. (Id.).
opposes. (Doc. 65). He originally filed a deficient
opposition brief and Local Civil Rule 56(b) statement. (Doc.
63.). In that brief, he plucked passages from cases United
Rentals cited and declared each to be
"distinguishable." (Id.). In the
accompanying statement, he block-quoted over 100 pages of
testimony, raised legal arguments, and provided impertinent
Court struck the brief and statement on its own motion,
alerting Plaintiff that both filings were deficient in
various respects. (Doc. 64.). The Court warned him that his
filings suggested that he hoped to avoid summary judgment by
improper means: bloating the record and obfuscating the
issues. (Id.). So the Court ordered him to file an
amended brief and statement within four days. (Id.).
He complied. (Doc. 65).
his second effort is no better than his first.
(Compare Docs. 47, 47-1 with Docs. 65,
65-1). His brief is-again-a mishmash of quotations, which
again-makes it difficult for the Court to divine the
arguments he intends to make. (Doc. 65). His second Local
Civil Rule 56(b) statement is shorter than his first; it
again, however, contains improper argument. (Doc. 65-1). Even
worse, it smacks of gamesmanship: it contains 51 denials of
properly supported facts cited in United Rentals' Local
Civil Rule 56(b) statement. (Doc. 65-1). Most of the denials
are unfounded; consider the following:
Fact Offered as Undisputed
"Plaintiff was provided with a Policy Procedure
Bulletin, containing United Rentals' Equal
Employment Opportunity Policy."
"Denied as written. There is ... a contested
material fact whether [United Rentals] has anything
even remotely credible."
"During his hiring, Plaintiff also received a
copy of the Employee HandbookM"
"Denied.[United Rentals'] policy and
procedure bulletin is in conflict with its employee
"The Safety Policy provides that 'United
Rentals is committed to a safety culture . .
"Denied.. . . [United Rentals] cared not about
safety, but to obtain a clean bill from
"To be a flatbed driver at United Rentals . . .
Plaintiff had to maintain a commercial driver's
"Denied as written. In fact, one form of illegal
discrimination involved . . ."
"Plaintiffs duties as a CDL driver, Class A,
included [lists duties] . . ."
"Denied as written. [United Rentals] failed to
properly train the plaintiff."
"To maintain his Class A commercial driver's
license, Plaintiff waas required to renew his medical
certification every two years."
"Denied as written. [United Rentals']
handling of his medical certification was yet another
aspect of the illegal discrimination].]"
"Plaintiff received a copy of the Company's
Policy and Procedure Bulletin, outlining its safety
policies and procedures."
"Denied as written. . . . [United Rentals] did
not follow its own policies and procedures[.]"
"Upon his return to work, Plaintiff did not
update or change his medical documentation
"Denied as written. No one at [United Rentals]
advised Plaintiff of the necessity to update or
change his medical documentation."
list is illustrative. After combing the record, the Court
finds that Plaintiff lacks a good-faith basis for 51 of his
54 denials. Plaintiffs unfounded "as-written"
denials betray a lack of candor to the Court. If Plaintiff s
counsel files any similarly improper Local Civil Rule 56(b)
statement in ...