United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
ELIZABETH T. RUNKLE, Plaintiff,
ROSAUERS SUPERMARKETS, INC., BOB BURRIS, and RAY SPRINKLE, Defendants.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
Jeremiah C. Lynch United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants Rosauers
Supermarkets, Inc., Bob Burris and Ray Sprinkle's
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 motions for summary judgment. For the reasons
discussed, Defendants Burris and Sprinkle's motion should
be granted, and Rosauers' motion should be denied.
began working for Rosauers Supermarkets, Inc.
(“Rosauers”) in 2007 at its grocery store in
Kalispell, Montana where she worked as a clerk. In January,
2014, Runkle disclosed to Bob Burris, the store manager, that
she is disabled due to a mental illness. She alleges Burris
thereafter made conditions of her employment difficult for
her, and discriminated against her, all based on her
disability. She asserts that ultimately she was
constructively discharged from her employment on September
result of the discrimination Runkle allegedly experienced,
she pursued her remedies with the Montana Human Rights
Bureau. Ray Sprinkle, the chairman of the board and CEO of
Rosauers' parent company, URM Stores, Inc., was involved
in the Montana Human Rights Bureau's investigation.
Runkle alleges Sprinkle further perpetuated the
discrimination against her through his testimony and
involvement in the investigation.
commenced this action with her complaint filed May 17, 2017.
She advances claims against Defendants under the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) entitles a party to summary
judgment “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.” In deciding a motion for
summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all
justifiable inferences in the non-moving party's favor.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986); Betz v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 504
F.3d 1017, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2007).
because Runkle is appearing pro se in this action the Court
must construe her documents liberally and give them
“the benefit of any doubt” with respect to
Defendants' summary judgment motions. Frost v.
Symington, 197 F.3d 348, 352 (9th Cir. 1999).
See also Erickson v. Pardus 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
Burris and Sprinkle
asserts her claims under authority of Titles I and V of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Doc. 1 at 6, and Doc. 40 at 1.)
Title I of the ADA exposes “employers” to
liability for discriminating against an employee based on a
disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). Walsh v. Nevada
Department of Human Resources, 471 F.3d 1033, 1036
(9th Cir. 2006). But the ADA limits the definition
of “employers” to those who employ 15 or more
workers. 42 U.S.C. § 12111(5)(a). As a result,
individuals who are not “employers” cannot be
held liable under Title I of the ADA. Walsh, 471
F.3d at 1038.
and Sprinkle move for summary judgment dismissing
Runkle's ADA claim under Title I because they are
individuals and employees, not Runkle's employer.
responds by suggesting Burris and Sprinkle are
“employers” under the ADA because they, as either
her supervisors or executive managers within Rosauers'
business structure, had authority to control the terms and
conditions of her daily work. But Runkle's suggestion is
insufficient as Runkle was employed by Rosauers (doc. 14 at
2, ¶ 5), not Burris and Sprinkle, and neither Burris nor
Sprinkle meet the statutory definition of an
“employer” under the ADA. Supervisory employees
do not qualify as “employers” under the ADA
despite their authority to control, discipline, hire or fire