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Klik v. Verizon Virginia Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Lynchburg Division

March 8, 2016

Kevin C. Klik, Plaintiff,
Verizon Virginia Inc., a/k/a Verizon Va, et al., Defendants.



This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkts. 23 & 26. Plaintiff, Kevin C. Klik, brought this action for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act against Verizon Virginia Inc. and Verizon Services Corp. (collectively “Verizon”). Specifically, Klik argues that Verizon’s failed to reasonably accommodate him when he was injured. For the following reasons, I will grant Verizon’s motion for summary judgment and deny Klik’s motion.

I. Introduction

a. Background

Plaintiff Kevin Klik became a Cable Splicing Technician (“CST”) for Verizon in 1999. Klik Dep. at 11.[1] For many years, Klik has been assigned to the Verizon office in Bedford, Virginia. Specifically, he was in the Construction group, which “normally placed new things in terms of new services.” Id. at 12; Smyth Dep. at 23.[2] Since 2012, Verizon has employed between two and three CSTs in this office. Klik Dep. at 12. From 2012 to 2013, Klik reported to Local Manager Michael Smyth. Smyth Dep. at 10. Since January 2014, Klik has reported to Local Manager Jason Price.

b. Job Duties

A CST must, inter alia, “perform physical requirements of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation, including, but not limited to. . . moving and/or lifting items such as ladders, tools, air tanks, cable reels, test equipment, and other objects weighing up to 100 pounds, working aloft; climbing ladders and poles, and entering tunnels, building, trenches, crawl spaces, manholes, and other confined spaces to accomplish job tasks.” Dkt. 24-2; see also Klik Dep. at 77 (acknowledging this job brief).

A CST must also be able to access aerial wires. Id. To reach these aerial wires, a CST must either climb poles or use a bucket truck. Id. However, as Klik admits, a bucket truck[3]cannot be used to reach many aerial wires around Bedford County due to hilly and residential areas. Klik Dep. at 79. Therefore, in many instances, the work requires use of a ladder. Id. at 24.

In addition, a CST must also be able to access underground wires. Id. at 44-45. To reach these wires, a CST must go underground through a manhole. Id. Once the CST has completed this underground work, they must be able to lift out of the manhole. As Klik describes, a CST would “grab the middle rails when you go up, and then you grab the top rails and pull yourself up.” Klik Dep. at 45. The CST must therefore be able to lift their entire body weight. Klik weighed between 190 and 215 pounds. Id. at 46.

A CST must also be able to carry heavy objects. As Klik declared, a CST must be able to carry ladders and climb a pole using gaffs. Id. at 79-80. According to Smyth, these ladders weigh at least 64 pounds. See Smyth Dep. at 68 (describing the weight of the ladder). A CST must also carry and use other heavy equipment such as “tools, cable reels, test equipment and other objects weighing up to 100 pounds.” Dkt. 26-2. Klik supports this assertion by stating that he has had to lift 100 pounds during his employment. For example, Klik has used a lashing machine-a machine that weighs between 70 and 90 pounds-“quite a bit.” Klik Dep. 23. In addition, Klik has had to place batteries weighing up to 100 pounds on racks above waste level. Id. at 27. Sometimes Klik had to place these batteries alone due to the “tight spot” that the batteries must be placed. Id.

c. Klik’s Injury[4] and Verizon’s Response

On October 31, 2012, Klik experienced pain in his left shoulder while lifting batteries. Dkt. 24-8; see also John Dep. at 13.[5] As a result of this pain, Dr. John ordered Klik to have an MRI and placed him on a ten-pound weight restriction as of October 31, 2012, pending the results of the MRI. Dkt. 24-8. Klik immediately faxed Dr. John’s restriction to Verizon’s Worker’s Compensation group. Klik Dep. at 54. Verizon accommodated Klik’s lifting restriction by giving him light duty work. Id. Following the MRI, Klik’s doctor recommended surgery which was scheduled for December 2, 2012. Id. at 60. From October 31 to December 2, Klik remained on light duty work.[6] Id. at 61.

Following his surgery and until April 8, 2013, Klik remained out of work on short-term disability (“STD”) Leave receiving worker’s compensation “wage replacement” payments. Id. at 63-64. On April 9, 2013, Klik returned to work with a five pound weight restriction, no overhead reaching restriction, and no climbing on ladders restriction. Id. At this time, Verizon placed Klik on the Medical Restriction Leave of Absence Policy (“MR-LOAPA”) and began his 150 days of paid light duty assignments from that date.

On April 25, 2013, Klik submitted an accommodation request seeking the use of a bucket truck. Dkt. 24-10; see also Klik Dep. at 63. Although Klik was originally assigned a bucket truck prior to his injury, Klik’s supervisor, Mr. Smyth, decided to reassign the bucket truck because he wanted “to fully utilize [the] one and only [bucket] truck that [he] had in that turf.” Smyth Dep. at 42. Accordingly, Smyth left the bucket truck with “the person that was fully operational.” Id. Therefore, ...

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