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Bialy v. Grill

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 21, 2018



          Hon. Nora Barry Fischer Judge


         This action involves allegations by Plaintiff Nicholas Von Bialy that Defendant Chipotle Mexican Grill (“Chipotle”) terminated his employment on the basis of his partner's disability. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts a claim against Chipotle for discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112. (Docket No. 13). Presently before the Court is Chipotle's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 68). The matter has been fully briefed and oral argument, after which the parties filed supplemental briefing. (See Dockets Nos. 68-72, 76, 78-83, 92-93). Having considered the parties' positions and evaluated all of the evidence in light of the appropriate standard governing motions for summary judgment, for the following reasons, Chipotle's Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED.


         A. Plaintiff's Employment Background

         The following facts are not contested.[1] On or about October 28, 2013, Plaintiff began working for Chipotle. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 1; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 1). After training at other Chipotle restaurants, Plaintiff began working as the General Manager in June 2014 at the Chipotle restaurant located at 20024 Route 19, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania 16066. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 2; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 2).

         Eric DiCenzo, a Chipotle Area Manager and Plaintiff's supervisor, oversaw Cranberry Township and submitted “The Area Manager Report, Plan for Building a Restaurateur Culture” (the “Restaurateur Plan”) on December 15, 2014. (Docket No. 69 at ¶¶ 3-4; Docket No. 83 at ¶¶ 3-4). The Restauranteur Plan is a diagnosing planning tool that is used to evaluate issues occurring in Chipotle restaurants that prevent the restaurant's success. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 5; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 5). The Restaurateur Plan cited twenty-six managerial deficiencies and issues with Cranberry Township and Plaintiff's performance. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 6; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 6). Plaintiff's Restaurateur Plan was the second worst review in which Chipotle Team Director Rob Anderson had participated. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 7; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 7). Area Manager Christopher Bruni considered the Restaurateur Plan to be “very bad” and Cranberry Township to be one of the most challenged stores for which he had reviewed a Restaurateur Plan. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 8; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 8). Bruni's general take-away from the Restaurateur Plan was that Plaintiff was running Cranberry Township “very poorly” and that Plaintiff was not performing up to speed, and that Plaintiff was not doing what his supervisors needed him to do. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 9; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 9).

         B. The Events of January 16-18, 2015

         On January 16, 2015, Plaintiff and his partner, Jamie Pittner, attended a work function and awards ceremony at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 11; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 11). During same, Pittner collapsed, was rushed to Allegheny General Hospital, and was admitted to the emergency room and intensive care unit. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 12; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 12). Upon her admission, Pittner had a blood alcohol level of .213. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 15; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 15). While in the intensive care unit, Pittner was seen by Dr. Mark Lega, who diagnosed her as being intoxicated and discharged her from the intensive care unit on January 17, 2015. (Docket No. 69 at ¶¶ 13-14, 16; Docket No. 83 at ¶¶ 13-14, 16). At approximately 11:52 a.m., Pittner was discharged. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 19; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 19).

         On January 18, 2015, at approximately 5:12 p.m., Pittner admitted herself to the emergency room at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Passavant because she did not believe that she should have been discharged from Allegheny General Hospital. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 20; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 20). Pittner was seen by Dr. Alan Shapiro, who discharged her on January 18, 2015, at approximately 7:31 p.m. (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 21, 24; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 21, 24).

         C. Chipotle's Knowledge and Notice of Pittner's Disability

         On January 16, 2015, at 6:26 p.m., Plaintiff sent a text message to DiCenzo stating, “My wife just got rushed to the hospital.” (Docket No. 69 at ¶ 25; Docket No. 83 at ¶ 25). Later that evening, Plaintiff spoke to DiCenzo on the telephone, the content of which he described during his deposition:

Q. What did you discuss?
A. Well, the fact that my wife had collapsed and that I would not be -- you know, I would be taking care of this for a few days. I had the whole weekend off, so I wasn't missing any of my shifts.
. . . . Q. So you were informing him as a courtesy because it wasn't because you were going to be missing work; is that correct?
A. Yes.
. . . . Q. Pardon me. Do you remember exactly what you said to him?
A. No. I just said that my wife had collapsed and I'm at the hospital and just to let him know that if he needed me for anything, I probably wouldn't be available for 24 hours, if I can even recollect that. Like I said, I was an emotional wreck.
Q. Did you describe to him at all what happened to your wife, do you recall?
A. Just that she collapsed and that we took an ambulance to the hospital and that she's in the emergency room.
Q. Did you tell him what you thought it was, if anything?
A. I had no idea what it was.
Q. Other than that she had collapsed, did you make any other description of what had happened to her?
A. The fact that she collapsed and stopped breathing is all I can remember.
Q. Did you ever discuss what had happened to her in he hospital that she was being intubated?
A. Not to my knowledge, but maybe.
Q. Other than collapsed and wasn't breathing, were there any other descriptions of your wife's condition that you ...

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