United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
S. LASNIK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on defendant's
“Motion for Summary Judgment or in the Alternative
Partial Summary Judgment.” Dkt. # 35. The Court has
reviewed the motion, the parties' memoranda, the
associated filings, and the remainder of the
record.For the following reasons, the motion is
case stems from plaintiff David Pallies's unfortunate
development of a neurological disorder that eventually
prevented him from doing his job at the Boeing Company.
Pallies started working for Boeing in December 2010 as a
Crane Operator Hooktender. Hooktenders operate cranes to
lift, move, and position aircraft parts, equipment, and other
materials. In early 2012, Pallies began to feel pain and
numbness in his arms but continued working normally in his
position. Pallies Decl. (Dkt. # 38) ¶¶ 2-4. In May
2014, Pallies's physician, Dr. Roger Sharf, diagnosed him
with peripheral polyneuropathy and told him he may have
Charcot-Marie-Toothe disease (“CMT”), a
degenerative nerve disorder that causes pain and weakness in
a person's limbs and extremities. Sharf Decl. (Dkt. # 23)
to Pallies, he informed his primary managers Brandon Cowell
and Stephen Lynch of his condition and its prognosis the next
work day,  but he did not seek out Boeing Medical or
the company's Disability Management division. Pallies
Decl. ¶ 5. Within two months, a position as his
shift's Crane Operator Dispatch became available.
Id. ¶ 6. Pallies sought the position, because
it was less physically demanding than hooktender and would
pose fewer neuropathy-related difficulties. Id. In
August 2014, he began regularly filling the dispatch job.
White Decl. (Dkt. # 35-5) ¶ 8. The assignment was
temporary, but Pallies's managers indicated he might be
permanently assigned if he proved himself. Pallies Decl.
November 2014, a hooktender on a different shift named Brian
Tunks returned to work after a heart attack. Stevens Decl.
(Dkt. # 35-4) ¶ 7. The heart attack left Tunks with a
medical restriction that prohibited him from working as a
hooktender. Id. Unlike Pallies, Tunks had a formal
medical restriction and had entered Boeing's official
reassignment protocol. Id. ¶¶ 6-8.
Although Pallies had been working in the dispatch job for
some time, his assignment was not permanent and the position
was still technically vacant. See id. ¶¶
7-8. Boeing policy provided that Tunks be assigned to the
assignment reflected Boeing policy in two ways. First, the
Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”)
negotiated with Tunks's and Pallies's union gave the
senior employee priority, see Dkt. # 35-5 at 28, and
Tunks was the senior employee, Stevens Decl. ¶ 6.
Second, Pallies was not in the position pursuant to a medical
restriction or an officially requested accommodation.
Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Tunks, on the other hand, was
on restriction from Boeing Medical, had formally requested
the job as an accommodation, and was already officially in
the reassignment process. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. For
that reason, Boeing's EEOC policy also gave Tunks
priority. Id. ¶ 9. The job went to Tunks in
January 2015, and Pallies resumed working as a hooktender.
White Decl. ¶¶ 9-10.
resume work, Boeing Medical needed to recertify Pallies. In
his visit, Pallies disclosed his neuropathy and was still
certified with no restrictions. Dkt. # 35-2 at 14-15. Pallies
did not seek disabled status or a formal accommodation. He
claims that he discussed the decision whether to seek out
Boeing Medical with his second-level manager, Kenneth White,
and that White told him going to Boeing Medical would be like
“cutting your own throat.” Pallies Decl. ¶
11. As Pallies explains it, “if he went to Boeing
Medical to request accommodations, he would still not be
allowed to remain in dispatch, and if he did, he risked being
able to return to hooktending due to his medical
condition.” Dkt. # 37 at 7.
however, take leave to treat his neuropathy. On the leave
form Pallies submitted in January 2015, Dr. Sharf concluded
that Pallies's condition required regular treatment and
intermittent leave, but that Pallies was not “unable to
perform his essential job functions due to th[e]
condition.” Dkt. # 35-3 at 33. Pallies also briefly
missed work for a knee injury, but Dr. Sharf again certified
that Pallies could return to work full time and with regular
duties. Dkt. # 35-2 at 139. In addition, Pallies
contemporaneously submitted a health questionnaire that
acknowledged his neuropathy, but still stated that he had no
“conditions that [would] keep [him] from performing all
tasks and functions of [his] job.” Id at 140,
continued to work as a hooktender until September 2015, at
which point he sought out Boeing Medical for pain associated
with his neuropathy. Boeing Medical gave him several
permanent restrictions and disqualified him from working as a
hooktender. Dkt. # 36-1 at 123-24. Pallies formally requested
an accommodation and entered Boeing's reassignment
process. Id. at 126.
accommodation would allow Pallies to stay on as a hooktender,
which meant the only option was to reassign him to a vacant
position. See Stevens Decl. ¶ 3. Over the next
four months, Boeing's Disability Management department
undertook an extensive search for a suitable vacant position
but the effort ultimately proved fruitless. See Dkt.
# 35-2 at 6-7. On January 13, 2016, Boeing designated Pallies
as “Medically Unable to Perform Work Assignment”
and laid him off. Id. at 187.
14, 2016, Pallies filed a charge with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (”EEOC”). Dkt.
# 35-3 at 10. On August 5, 2016, the EEOC issued a
“Right to Sue” notice stating that it was
terminating processing of Pallies's charge. Id.
at 7. Pallies then sued Boeing for alleged violations of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and Washington's
Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”), RCW
49.60.030 et seq. Compl. (Dkt. # 1). After
discovery, Boeing moved for summary judgment. Dkt. # 35.
judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether
there is a factual dispute requiring trial, the Court will
“view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party . . . and draw all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor.” Krechman v. Cty. of
Riverside, 723 F.3d 1104, 1109 (9th Cir. 2013). A
dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only
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). There
is no genuine issue for trial ...