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Jones v. Southwest Gas Corp.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 11, 2019

SHARON JONES, Plaintiffs,


         Presently before the court is defendant Southwest Gas Corporation's (“defendant”) motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 24). Pro se plaintiff Sharon Jones (“plaintiff”) filed a response (ECF No. 28), to which defendant replied (ECF No. 32).

         Also before the court is plaintiff's motion for leave to file a sur reply. (ECF No. 33).

         Also before the court is defendant's motion to strike motion for leave to file sur reply. (ECF No. 34). Plaintiff did not respond, and the time to do so has passed.

         I. Background

         The instant action arises from defendant's termination of plaintiff. Plaintiff was a “new business representative” for defendant. (ECF No. 24 at 3-4). As a new business representative, plaintiff performed a variety of administrative tasks related to new customers. Id. at 4. Plaintiff oversaw defendant's new customer operations in southern Nevada. Id.

         In August 2017, plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident. (ECF No. 1 at 6). In October 2017, plaintiff developed pseudotumor cerebri, a neurological condition, and informed defendant that she would not be able to work for several days. (ECF No. 24 at 4). Defendant contacted plaintiff and informed her that she “may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for an accommodation or extended leave of absence.” Id. Defendant provided plaintiff with a request for accommodation form. Id.

         Plaintiff's daughter sent defendant the completed request for accommodation form on October 16, 2017. Id. at 5. Plaintiff's healthcare provider, Dr. Kimberly Adams, indicated that plaintiff had a physical or mental impairment and a chronic medical condition that was likely to last up to a year. Id. Dr. Adams further noted that plaintiff was unable to perform any of her job functions and would return to work on October 27, 2017. Id. Dr. Adams said the October 27 date was subject to change. Id. Dr. Adams later extended plaintiff's return-to-work date to December 2, 2017, and then to January 1, 2018. Id. at 5-6. On both occasions, Dr. Adams said plaintiff's return-to-work date was subject to change. Id.

         Defendant received plaintiff's last request for accommodation-which listed the tentative January 1, 2018, return date-on November 27, 2017. Id. at 6. Plaintiff's return-to-work date had already been pushed out, the January date was “subject to change, ” and plaintiff's condition could last up to a year. Id. at 7. In light of those facts, defendant determined that it could not reasonably accommodate plaintiff's request for an undetermined and indeterminable amount of leave. Id. On November 29, 2017, defendant terminated plaintiff effective December 1. Id. at 8.

         Defendant informed plaintiff that she would be eligible to apply for vacant positions and, for six months after her termination, plaintiff would be considered an “internal candidate.” Id. This gave plaintiff access to and the opportunity to apply for positions that were not posted externally. Id. On March 16, 2018-more than two months after plaintiff's latest return-to-work date-plaintiff informed defendant that she had been released to return to work and was interested in applying for a position. Id.

         After obtaining a right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), plaintiff filed the instant action in state court, alleging a violation of the ADA, retaliation in violation of the ADA, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent training and/or supervision. (ECF No. 1). Defendant timely removed the action. Id. . . . . . .

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow summary judgment when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         For purposes of summary judgment, disputed factual issues should be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). However, to be entitled to a denial of summary judgment, the nonmoving party must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.

         In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. The moving party must first satisfy its initial burden. “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue ...

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