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Whitaker v. Blackstone Consulting Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 28, 2016

DAWAYNE WHITAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
BLACKSTONE CONSULTING, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff Dawayne Whitaker claims exposure to chemicals while working as a dishwasher for Defendant Blackstone Consulting, Inc. According to Whitaker, the chemical exposure resulted in a disability that Blackstone failed to accommodate. Before the Court is Blackstone’s Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion”). Dkt. No. 29. Whitaker neither opposed the Motion nor responded to Blackstone’s earlier request for admissions (“RFA”). As such, all matters in the RFA, as reflected in Blackstone’s concise statement of facts, are deemed admitted. See L.R. 56.1(g); Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a). Based on these uncontroverted admissions, the Court GRANTS Blackstone’s Motion without a hearing, pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d).

BACKGROUND

I. Factual History

In October 2013, Whitaker began working as a dishwasher for Blackstone. Complaint ¶ 6. With a doctor’s note in hand, he requested a leave of absence from February 26, 2014 until March 12, 2014. Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 2; Dkt. No. 30-2, Def. Exh. A, RFA ¶ 4. In March 2014, again supported by a doctor’s note, Whitaker requested an extension of his leave of absence until March 28, 2014. Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 2; RFA ¶ 5. Blackstone granted both of these requests. Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 2; RFA ¶¶ 6-7.

In April 2014, Blackstone sent a letter to Whitaker offering to return him to work following his leave of absence. Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 4; RFA ¶¶ 12-13. Whitaker, however, never responded to this letter, nor has he ever attempted to return to work at Blackstone. RFA ¶¶ 8-9; 14-17.

II. Procedural History

Whitaker summarizes his October 10, 2014 Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) as follows:

Plaintiff was hired by Defendant on October 24, 2013, as a dishwasher. Around November 2013, Plaintiff developed a disability due to chemicals he was using at work. Plaintiff was not properly accommodated for his disability and when Plaintiff started to complain, Plaintiff overheard the supervisors talking about “getting rid of Plaintiff.” The company also tried to force Plaintiff out of his position and transfer Plaintiff to another location. On March 21, 2014, Plaintiff’s doctor placed Plaintiff on medical leave until January 2, 2015.

Complaint ¶ 3. He asserts the following claims: (1) disability discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) (“Count I”); (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) (“Count II”); and (3) violation of the Hawaii Whistleblower’s Protection Act (“HWPA”) (“Count V”).[1] Dkt. No. 1.

On July 21, 2015, by stipulation of the parties, Whitaker dismissed his IIED claim with prejudice. Dkt. No. 21.

On September 28, 2015, Blackstone served Whitaker with a request for admissions. Dkt. No. 30-2, Def. Exh. A. Whitaker’s responses to the RFA were due by November 2, 2015. Id.

On October 28, 2015, Whitaker’s then-counsel requested a 30-day extension of time to respond to the RFA. See Declaration of Christopher Yeh (“Yeh Decl.”) ¶ 4; Dkt. No. 30-4, Def. Exh. C. The parties’ respective counsel agreed to November 27, 2015 as the firm extended deadline. Id. Blackstone’s counsel memorialized the extension in an e-mail, which further stated: “Particularly in light of Plaintiff’s ongoing delays in responding to other discovery (see below), Defendant is not able to agree to any further extension on [the RFA].” Dkt. No. 30-4, Def. Exh. C. Whitaker failed to serve any response to the RFA by November 27, 2015, or at any point thereafter. Yeh Decl. ¶ 6.

On December 7, 2015, Blackstone filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 28.[2] The following day, on December 8, Whitaker’s counsel filed a Motion to Withdraw as Attorney, which the Magistrate Judge ...


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