United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
BRUCE A. LEVINE PLAINTIFF
CITY OF EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS; EUREKA SPRINGS PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION; ROBERT “BUTCH” BERRY, individually and in his representative capacity as Mayor of Eureka Springs; and WILLIAM F. “BILL” FEATHERSTONE, individually and in his representative capacity as Chairman of Parks & Recreation Commission DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
26), Brief in Support (Doc. 27), and Statement of Undisputed
Facts (Doc. 28) filed by Defendants City of Eureka Springs,
Arkansas (“the City”), Eureka Springs Parks and
Recreation Commission (“the Commission”), Robert
“Butch” Berry, and William F. “Bill”
Featherstone; the Response in opposition (Doc. 34) and
Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts and
Separate Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. 31) filed by
Plaintiff Bruce A. Levine; the Defendants' Reply in
support of their Motion (Doc. 35); and Mr. Levine's
Sur-reply (Doc. 39). Furthermore, although the Court
previously granted Mr. Levine's Motion for Leave to file
the aforementioned Sur-reply, see Doc. 40, the Court
has also considered the Defendants' Response to Motion
for Leave to File Sur-reply (Doc. 37) in the context of its
deliberations on their Motion for Summary Judgment, as this
document contains substantive arguments in opposition to
arguments contained in Mr. Levine's Sur-reply.
reasons given below, the Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED. Mr. Levine's
federal claims will be DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE, and his state-law claims will be
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
9, 2015, Mr. Levine was fired from his job as the Director of
the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission-a position
he held for twelve years. On September 28, 2016, he filed
this lawsuit against the City, the Commission, Mr. Berry (the
Mayor of the City), and Mr. Featherstone (the Chairman of the
Commission). In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Mr. Levine
alleges that his firing was unlawful. Specifically, Mr.
Levine brings claims under Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution through 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, as well as various causes of action under
Arkansas law. The Defendants have moved for summary
judgment on all of Mr. Levine's claims. That Motion is
now ripe for decision.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must view the facts in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, and give the
non-moving party the benefit of any logical inferences that
can be drawn from the facts. Canada v. Union Elec.
Co., 135 F.3d 1211, 1212-13 (8th Cir. 1997). The moving
party bears the burden of proving the absence of any material
factual disputes and that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87
moving party meets this burden, then the non-moving party
must “come forward with specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. These facts must be
“such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the nonmoving party.” Allison v. Flexway Trucking,
Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66 (8th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). “The nonmoving party must do more than rely on
allegations or denials in the pleadings, and the court should
grant summary judgment if any essential element of the prima
facie case is not supported by specific facts sufficient to
raise a genuine issue for trial.” Register v.
Honeywell Fed. Mfg. & Techs., LLC, 397 F.3d 1130,
1136 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Celotex Corp v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)).
Court will begin its summary-judgment analysis with Mr.
Levine's claims under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act,
which are premised on his allegation that his firing was a
form of unlawful disability discrimination. Then the Court
will consider Mr. Levine's claims under the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, the Court will
turn to Mr. Levine's claims under Arkansas law.
and the Rehabilitation Act both prohibit workplace
discrimination on the basis of one's disability.
See 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a); 29 U.S.C. § 794.
For our purposes in this case, the legal test under these two
different statutes is identical. See Wojewski v. Rapid
City Regional Hosp., Inc., 450 F.3d 338, 344 (8th Cir.
2006). To establish a claim of workplace disability
discrimination under the ADA (and accordingly, also under the
Rehabilitation Act), “an employee must show that [he]
(1) is disabled within the meaning of the ADA, (2) is a
qualified individual under the ADA, and (3) has suffered an
adverse employment action because of [his] disability.”
Hill v. Walker, 737 F.3d 1209, 1216 (8th Cir. 2013).
plaintiff's claim of disability discrimination may
survive a summary judgment motion through the presentation of
either direct or inferential evidence in support of his
claim. Libel v. Adventure Lands of Am., Inc., 482
F.3d 1028, 1034 (8th Cir. 2007). “[D]irect evidence is
evidence showing a specific link between the alleged
discriminatory animus and the challenged decision, sufficient
to support a finding by a reasonable fact finder that an
illegitimate criterion actually motivated the adverse
employment action.” Id. (quoting Griffith
v. City of Des Moines, 387 F.3d 733, 736 (8th Cir.
2004)). However, when a disability discrimination claim is
premised merely on inferential evidence, then the Court must
apply a burden-shifting test known as the
“McDonnell Douglas” standard.
Id. This standard, which takes its name from the
famous case of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411
U.S. 792 (1973), requires application of a three-step
process. First, the plaintiff “bears the burden of
establishing a prima facie case of discrimination.”
Libel, 482 F.3d at 1034. If the plaintiff meets that
burden, then the burden shifts to the defendant “to
articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the
employer's actions.” Id. Finally, if the
defendant's burden is met, then the burden shifts back to
the plaintiff to show that the defendant's justification
is pretextual. Id.
Levine's Complaint alleges that he was diagnosed with
Bipolar Disorder (“BPD”) in 2004, see
Doc. 1, ¶¶ 5-8, and that he contracted a tick-borne
disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
(“RMSF”) roughly two months before he was fired,
which may have contributed to a major bipolar episode,
see Id. at ¶¶ 13-14. He further alleges
that when he was fired, he was never told any specific reason
for the firing; and from ...