The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, District Judge.
This is an employment discrimination case presently before the
Court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit. Plaintiff Katherine L. Taylor ("Plaintiff" or
"Taylor") brought this action against her former employer,
Defendant Phoenixville School District ("Defendant" or "the
School District"), on December 19, 1996. In her Complaint, Taylor
claimed that the School District discriminated against her in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ("the ADA") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Act, 43 P.S. § 951, et seq. ("the PHRA"). The essence of
Taylor's claims was that the School District failed to provide
reasonable accommodations for her mental illness.
Defendant moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
56 on September 17, 1997. On March 20, 1998, we granted
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment in our opinion reported
at 998 F. Supp. 561 (E.D.Pa. 1998). Plaintiff appealed. On appeal,
the Third Circuit reversed our order, concluding that Taylor's
unmedicated condition demonstrated that she had a disability. In
addition, the court found that genuine factual issues existed as
to whether the School District participated in the interactive
process required by the ADA. See Taylor v. Phoenixville Sch.
Dist., 174 F.3d 142 (3d Cir. Apr.5, 1999).
Shortly thereafter, Defendant petitioned for rehearing. The
Third Circuit ultimately granted Defendant's petition and vacated
its earlier opinion in light of the recent United States Supreme
Court decisions in Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc.,
527 U.S. 471, 119 S.Ct. 2139, 144 L.Ed.2d 450 (1999) and Murphy v. United
Parcel Svc., 527 U.S. 516, 119 S.Ct. 2133, 144 L.Ed.2d 484
(1999). In Sutton and Murphy, the Supreme Court held that
when a court evaluates whether a plaintiff has a disability
under 42 U.S.C. § 12102(A), it must take into account any
mitigating measures the plaintiff uses. Based on these decisions,
the Third Circuit on August 18, 1999 issued a new opinion, in
which it applied the updated law.
In its August 1999 opinion, the Third Circuit again reversed
the grant of summary judgment, concluding that genuine issues of
fact existed as to whether Taylor continued to be substantially
limited in a major life activity even while taking her
medication. The court also restated its previous conclusions
regarding the interactive process, which were unaffected by
Sutton and Murphy. The case was then remanded to this Court
for further proceedings. Taylor v. Phoenixville School
District, 184 F.3d 296 (3d Cir. 1999).
Upon remand, we granted the parties time to perform additional
discovery. Having completed that additional discovery, Defendant
now moves again for summary judgement on all counts. For the
reasons that follow, we will grant Defendant's Motion in part and
deny it in part.
As both this Court and the Third Circuit have previously stated
the facts of this case at length, we need not duplicate those
efforts here. The essential facts of the case are as follows.
Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as the principal's secretary
for the East Pikeland Elementary School ("East Pikeland") from
September 1974 until her termination on October 28, 1994. During
her tenure as secretary, Plaintiff worked for several different
principals, each of whom gave Plaintiff consistently positive
work reviews. In August 1993, a new principal, Christine Menzel
("Menzel"), was assigned to East Pikeland. Unfortunately, after
working with Menzel for only one week, Plaintiff became ill and
was forced to take a leave of absence from work.
Plaintiff's leave of absence began on August 30, 1993. The next
day she was admitted to the Coastal Plains Hospital and
Counseling Center in North Carolina ("Coastal Plains") where she
was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While under care at Coastal
Plains, Plaintiff was treated with the prescription drugs Navane
and Lithium Carbonate. She remained hospitalized until September
20, 1993, at which time she was discharged to the care of Louise
Sonnenberg, M.D. ("Dr. Sonnenberg"), a psychiatrist practicing in
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff currently remains under the
care of Dr. Sonnenberg and continues to take Lithium.
With her doctor's permission, Plaintiff returned to work in
mid-October 1993. Almost immediately upon her return, Plaintiff
encountered difficulties performing her job. These problems were
exacerbated by a number of changes in office procedure that had
been implemented by Menzel during Plaintiff's absence. As a
result of the problems, Menzel became dissatisfied with
Plaintiff's performance, and the working relationship between the
two women became strained. Over the next year, Menzel documented
Plaintiff's errors in a series of disciplinary memoranda that
culminated with Plaintiff being placed on probation for
unsatisfactory performance on September 8, 1994. Finally, on
October 28, 1994, Plaintiff was informed that she had failed to
improve her performance during the probationary period and that
she was being terminated from her position.
After Plaintiff's termination, her union representatives
negotiated with the School District to allow her to "retire" in
substitution for her discharge, thereby allowing her to receive
retirement benefits. Several months later, Plaintiff filed this
Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
the affidavits, if any, show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of
showing the basis for its motion for summary judgment. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d
265 (1986). Once the moving party meets this burden pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), the burden shifts to the non-moving party to
go beyond mere pleadings and to demonstrate, through affidavits,
depositions or admissions, that a genuine issue exists for trial.
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548. In so doing, the non-moving party
must raise "more than a mere scintilla of evidence in its favor"
and may not merely rely on unsupported ...