United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR
OF DEFENDANTS AND AGAINST PLAINTIFF
Jeffrey T. Miller United States District Judge
The Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego ("RCBSD"),
erroneously sued as Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego,
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego, dba Cathedral
Catholic High School and Cathedral Catholic High School,
moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff Michele Baker's
remaining claim for violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Plaintiff opposes the
motion. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the
motion for summary judgment in favor of RCBSD and against
Plaintiff. The Clerk of Court is instructed to enter judgment
accordingly and to close the file.
April 4, 2014, RCBSD removed this action from the Superior
Court for the State of California, County of San Diego, based
upon federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§§1331, 1441, and 1446. The operative Second
Amended Complaint ("SAC") alleges three claims for
relief: (1) disability discrimination in violation of the
ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12112 et seq.; (2) retaliation
and wrongful termination in violation of California public
policy; and (3) declaratory and injunctive relief. (Ct. Dkt.
22). Following entry of this court's March 23, 2015 Order
Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss, the only remaining claim is the ADA claim.
parties have now completed discovery and Defendant moves for
summary judgment on the remaining ADA claim. The following
evidentiary record is largely undisputed. Plaintiff, a 68
year old mathematics teacher, commenced her employment with
RCBSD in 2000. Plaintiff was employed via an annual
employment contract that would be renewed annually from 2000
through August 2013. The employment contract contained the
The term of this EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT shall be for one (1)
academic year commencing on September 1, 2000 and terminating
on June 30, 2001. . . . It is understood that . . . there is
no obligation to offer TEACHER another contract at the end of
that term, notwithstanding the fact that the contract may
have been renewed in previous years. . . .
Teacher is familiar with and understands the importance of
the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and agrees to give
Christian witness in his/her personal and professional life.
By accepting this term of the Agreement, Teacher agrees to
respect and implement the policies and regulations regarding
Catholic Schools and Catholic education as issued by the Holy
See, the Bishop of San Diego, and his delegates, including
the Office of Schools, the President and the Principal of the
to RCBSD's policies, Plaintiff's performance was
formally evaluated annually during the first three years of
employment and subsequent teacher evaluations were performed
as needed. Consistent with the policy, six performance
evaluations were conducted throughout Plaintiff's
employment with RCBSD. The evaluations each identify from 3
to 17 different areas in Plaintiff's performance that
needed improvement. The evaluations noted several areas for
improvement: For example, "Need to clearly identify
purpose, goals of each day's lesson;"
"Inadequate time for homework assignment;"
"Work more effectively with administrators;"
"Prepare lessons which reflect a strong understanding of
the content;" and "Adhere to all school policies,
procedures and regulation."
school principal, Principal Deely since 2006, would determine
which employment contracts would be renewed. Principal Deely
testified that he had received both positive and negative
comments concerning Plaintiff. While some people at the
school considered Plaintiff to be very nice and supportive of
students, Principal Deely also testified that he received
concerns about Plaintiff's effectiveness in teaching
mathematics, managing her classroom, and whether the students
received the kind of instruction needed. (Deely Decl.
¶¶9-10). These concerns were voiced by school
counselors and several administrative personnel. Assistant
Principal Mauro also testified that she received several
complaints, or concerns, from teachers and parents concerning
August 23, 2012, Plaintiff suffered a fall in the stairwell
at work, and struck her head on the concrete. Plaintiff was
initially unable to get up and sat on the ground for about
ten minutes. Plaintiff then walked to her car, informed the
school nurse of the fall, drove home, spoke with Principal
Deely, and then drove herself to the emergency room at
Sharp's Hospital. Plaintiff underwent a CT scan of her
head and neck. She was diagnosed with a concussion. She
received an anti-nausea medication and stayed out of work for
August 27, 2012, by email, Plaintiff informed Principal Deely
that she suffered a concussion and felt dizzy. Subsequently,
Principal Deely "asked me periodically if I - - how I
was, and I always told him that I had headaches and
dizziness, and that was about the extent of it." (AS
296:5-8). In their conversations, Principal Deely expressed
concern for her well-being and told Plaintiff to follow her
doctor's advice. On September 3, 2012, Plaintiff was
medically cleared to return to work. Without providing
necessary context as to frequency, severity, or duration,
Plaintiff represents that she suffers from double vision,
blurred vision, memory issues, hearing issues, dizziness, and
nightmares. (AS 193:2012; Oppo. at p.9:6-7). Following the
incident, Plaintiff testified that she was able to
competently carry out the duties of her teaching position.
(Exh. 1 338:1-342-19). At no time did a medical provider
inform her that she could not perform her duties as a
after returning to work, Plaintiff filed a worker's
compensation claim. From September 2012 through the spring of
2013, Plaintiff was seen by medical personnel on multiple
occasions (about once per month) concerning her complaints of
headaches and dizziness. Plaintiff requested, and received,
time off from her employer to attend doctor appointments.
After each medical appointment, Plaintiff was cleared for
full duty without any limitations. During this time,
Plaintiff was able continue teaching without any
accommodation or limitation.
the first semester of the 2012-13 academic year, Principal
Deely received concerns about students and classroom
management issues related to Plaintiff's classes.
Principal Deely observed Plaintiff on two or three occasions
in January and February 2013. Principal Deely observed that
Plaintiff did not begin class with a prayer as required,
incorrectly solved a math problem on the board and failed to
correct the answer when a student pointed out the problem,
and did not manage her class well. (Deely Decl. ¶18-19).
upon his observations, as well as input from students,
parents, and administrators, Principal Deely decided not to
offer Plaintiff a new contract for the 2013-2014 academic
year. On February 28, 2013, Plaintiff met with Principal
Deely and Vice Principal Mauro to discuss the evaluation.
Principal Deely discussed the performance evaluation and
modified one of the comments in the evaluation. Plaintiff
signed the evaluation but disputed the motivation and content
of the evaluation. (Exh. 19). Principal Deely informed
Plaintiff at the February 28, 2013 meeting that she would not
receive a new contract for the upcoming academic year.
March 18, 2013, Plaintiff contacted her physician and
informed her of the following:
. . . . I fell in August and continued to work. Although I
have dizziness, double-vision, and headaches, I felt I was
doing a good job. I was told last week that my contract would
not be renewed. I am devastated and feel unworthy at school.
I cannot stop crying. Is it possible to get a note from you
to get the rest of the year off, so I can pull myself
together and move forward? Please help me. Sincerely, Michele
physician complied and provided her with a note excusing her
from work from April 8, 2013, to June 15, 2013, due to
"medical illness." Plaintiff's request for
leave was approved and Plaintiff was paid ...