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ROWLES v. AUTOMATED PRODUCTION SYSTEMS

March 29, 2000

JOHN A. ROWLES, PLAINTIFF,
V.
AUTOMATED PRODUCTION SYSTEMS, INC., AND WILLIAM DONOHUE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF AUTOMATED PRODUCTION SYSTEMS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rambo, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

Before the court are the following motions: (1) Defendants' April 9, 1999 motion to alter or amend the court's March 26, 1999 memorandum opinion addressing the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment;*fn1 (2) Plaintiff's April 9, 1999 motion for reconsideration of the Memorandum Opinion; (3) Defendants' July 26, 1999 motion for reconsideration of the Memorandum Opinion; and (4) Plaintiff's August 11, 1999 "cross motion for summary judgment on the issue of disability." The parties have briefed the issues, and the matter is ripe for disposition.

I. Background

A. Procedural History

The instant case is an employment discrimination action. Plaintiff John A. Rowles instituted this action by filing a three-count complaint alleging that Defendants Automated Production Systems, Inc. ("APS") and William Donohue terminated his employment in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Count I) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 951-963 (Count II), and tortiously invaded his privacy (Count III). Plaintiff's PHRA claim was dismissed by the court on August 13, 1998, pursuant to Defendants' Rule 12(b) motion.

After completion of discovery, Defendants filed a motion seeking summary judgment on Counts I and III. Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment on Count I, seeking a ruling that Defendants' drug and alcohol abuse policy is a violation of the ADA. On March 26, 1999 the court issued a memorandum and order ruling on the parties' cross-motions. The court denied Defendants' motion in its entirety. However, the court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs motion, stating as follows:

(a) The motion is granted with respect to [Plaintiff's] claim that APS's drug and alcohol abuse policy violates the ADA because it prohibits the use of all legally prescribed controlled substances without a determination that such prohibition is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
(b) The motion is denied with respect to [Plaintiff's] claim that APS's drug and alcohol abuse policy's mandatory disclosure requirement violates the ADA.

(Rowles v. Automated Prod. Sys., Inc. et al., Civil No. 1:CV-98-0707 (M.D.Pa. March 26, 1999) (Doc. 42) at 33.)*fn2

On April 1, 1999 the court held a pretrial conference with the parties in anticipation of holding trial during the month of April 1999. However, pursuant to Plaintiff's request, the trial was taken off the April 1999 list and placed on the October 1999 trial list.

Defendants filed a motion on April 9, 1999 seeking to alter or amend the court's order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. On the same date, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the court's order denying, in part, his motion for partial summary judgment. The briefing on the parties' initial motions for reconsideration was thus completed on May 24, 1999.

On July 26, 1999, in response to the United States Supreme Court's June 22, 1999 decision in the case of Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471, 119 S.Ct. 2139, 144 L.Ed.2d 450 (1999), Defendants filed an additional motion for reconsideration of the court's March 26, 1999 Memorandum Opinion, seeking summary judgment on the issue of whether Plaintiff has a disability which is protected under the ADA. Plaintiff then responded on August 11, 1999 by filing a brief in opposition and a cross-motion for reconsideration on the issue of disability.

By order dated August 27, 1999 the court removed the instant case from the October 1999 trial list, and indicated that a new scheduling order would issue, if necessary, upon resolution of the parties' motions. Defendants filed a supplemental memorandum in support of their motion on November 29, 1999, and by letter dated January 20, 2000, Plaintiff directed the court's attention to additional case law supporting his position with regard to the outstanding motions.

B. Factual Background

The undisputed factual background was set forth by the court in the Memorandum Opinion. (Mem.Op. at 1-7.) Therefore, in the interest of brevity, the court will incorporate that portion of its memorandum by reference.

II. Legal Standard: Motion for Reconsideration

"The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). Therefore, a court may properly grant a party's motion for reconsideration in any of the following circumstances: "(1) the development of an intervening change in the law, (2) the emergence of new evidence not previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent a manifest injustice." Cohen v. Austin, 869 F. Supp. 320, 321 (E.D.Pa. 1994) (citations omitted).

III. Discussion

The court will first address Defendants' July 26, 1999 motion for reconsideration, regarding the issue of whether Plaintiff is sufficiently disabled so as to be entitled to the protection of the ADA in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Sutton, 527 U.S. 471, 119 S.Ct. 2139, 144 L.Ed.2d 450. The court ...


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