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Roland Kennedy v. the Glen Mills School

November 15, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Padova, J.


Plaintiff brings this action under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., alleging that his former employer, Defendant Glen Mills School, Inc., terminated him because of his alcoholism and failed to accommodate his alcoholism. Presently before the Court is Defendant's unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.


Defendant Glen Mills is a school and rehabilitation center for delinquent youngsters located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. (Josephs Aff. at 1) Defendant operates a residential school, which provides care, rehabilitation, and education to over 600 students, all of whom have been adjudicated delinquent. (Id.) Defendant also operates a "community-based program" overseeing students who live at home, attend regular public schools, and are under court orders to obey curfews and attend classes and other programs. (Id.) A Glen Mills Community Management Services Specialist visits these students daily to monitor compliance with their court orders and to provide them and their families with counseling. (Id.) Community Management Services Specialists use cars provided by Defendant to travel and to transport students to appointments. (Id.) Plaintiff Roland Kennedy had worked for Defendant for 29 years before he was fired in April 2009. (Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiff worked in different jobs over his 29 years at Glen Mills, was promoted several times and earned regular pay raises. (Josephs Aff. at 2.) Plaintiff's positions at Glen Mills included: night counselor; a.m. teacher; administrative assistant; and court representative. (Kennedy Dep. at 13-14, Josephs Aff. at 1.) Plaintiff's final position with Defendant was as a Community Management Services Specialist. (Josephs Aff. at 1.) As a court representative and Community Management Services Specialist, Plaintiff drove the students he supervised in a van belonging to Glen Mills. (Kennedy Dep. at 27-28.) Defendant permitted him to take the van home after work and he went directly from home to meetings in the van. (Id. at 29.)

On April 10, 2009, Plaintiff drove the school van to a bar after work. (Josephs Aff. at 3.) After drinking brandy at the bar, Plaintiff crashed the school van into a parked car. (Kennedy Dep. at 35-37.) Plaintiff was subsequently charged with and pled guilty to driving under the influence. (Id. at 36.) Plaintiff informed his supervisor Dan O'Neill of the accident and DUI charge by telephone the day after the accident. (Id. at 37-38.) Enrique Josephs, who was then the director of admissions and community-based programs at Glen Mills, called Plaintiff later that same day to discuss the accident. (Id. at 39-40.)

A few days later, Plaintiff attended a meeting in Josephs' office with Josephs, O'Neill, and other Glen Mills employees. (Id. at 43-44.) Plaintiff admitted he had driven the school van while intoxicated, and Josephs terminated him. (Josephs Aff. at 3.) Plaintiff was told he was being terminated to send a message throughout the campus that certain behaviors would not be tolerated. (Kennedy Dep. at 45-46.) Plaintiff did not mention his alcoholism at this meeting. (Josephs Aff. at 3-4.)

At the time of Plaintiff's termination, Defendant had a zero tolerance policy that applied to illegal drug use and the use of alcohol while operating a school vehicle. (Id. at 3 n.2.) Defendant has terminated several other employees who used illegal drugs in accordance with this policy, which was instituted in 2007 by Garrison Ipock, the Executive Director of Glen Mills. (Id.)

Following his DUI conviction, Plaintiff participated in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a DUI program, as ordered by the court. (Kennedy Dep. at 48.) Over the course of a few weeks, he completed the programs and passed three random alcohol analysis tests. (Id. at 56-57.) He did not drink at all during this time and has not driven intoxicated since the accident. (Id. at 57-58.) Plaintiff has never had any other treatment for alcoholism. (Id. at 48.)

Glen Mills never disciplined Plaintiff for poor job performance while he was employed there. (Josephs Aff. at 2.) No one at Glen Mills was aware that Plaintiff had a drinking problem. (Id.) Josephs in particular had no knowledge that Plaintiff suffered from alcoholism and never observed anything that led him to believe Plaintiff suffered from alcoholism. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff was never intoxicated at work at Glen Mills, never brought alcohol onto the Glen Mills campus, and never talked to anyone at Glen Mills about having an alcohol problem. (Kennedy Dep. at 21, 58.) Plaintiff only drank alcohol in the presence of someone associated with Glen Mills on one occasion, at a social event that took place off campus. (Id. at 58-59.)

For the past 15 years, including the time he was employed at Glen Mills, Plaintiff has been a full-time employee of the Devereaux Foundation. (Id. at 8.) Prior to becoming a full-time employee at the Devereaux Foundation, Plaintiff worked there part-time for 14 years. (Id. at 7, 9.) Plaintiff was never intoxicated while at work at the Devereaux Foundation. (Id. at 58.)

Plaintiff's Complaint asserts two claims under the ADA. First, Plaintiff alleges he was terminated because of his alcoholism. Second, he alleges Defendant failed to accommodate his alcoholism. Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment seeking an entry of judgment in its favor on both claims. Plaintiff has not filed any response to the Motion.


Summary judgment is appropriate "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). An issue is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

"[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court" that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325. After the moving party has met its initial burden, the adverse party's response "must support the assertion [that a fact is genuinely disputed] by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . . ; or (B) showing that the materials [that the moving party has cited] do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). Summary judgment is ...

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