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Angell v. Fairmount Fire Prot. Dist.

United States District Court for the District of Colorado

November 5, 2012, Decided; November 5, 2012, Filed

Civil Action No. 11-cv-03025-CMA-CBS



This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 15.) In this case, Plaintiff brings three employment-related claims: (1) a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a); (2) a common-law tort claim for retaliation, for filing a claim for benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act; and (3) a constitutional Due Process claim. (Doc. # 10, ¶¶ 3-4.)


The following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted.

Plaintiff Don Angell was the fire chief of the Fairmount Fire Protection District ("FFPD"), located in Golden, Colorado, when he was terminated on March 31, 2011. (Doc. ## 10, ¶ 8; 15, ¶ 1.) FFPD is  [*1247]  governed by a five-member Board of Directors ("the Board"). (Doc. # 10, ¶ 12.) As a source of additional revenue, FFPD participated in "prescribed burns"; FFPD would receive compensation  [**2] for providing personnel and equipment to burn agricultural and ranching lands. (Doc. # 15, ¶ 2.) FFPD participated in these prescribed burn projects since at least 2008. (Id., ¶ 3.)

At an August 26, 2009 Board meeting, Plaintiff presented a new business venture to the Board, in which FFPD would conduct prescribed burns in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, with an entity called "Up in Smoke" ("UIS"). (Id., ¶ 4.) At that Board meeting, Plaintiff told the Board he would have FFPD's attorney, Jim Petrock ("Petrock") "look things over and come up with an agreement for both parties."1 (Id.; see also Doc. #15-1 at 4.) The Board minutes stated that "part of the cost of this venture would be the need to purchase a mower and tiller at an approximate cost of $20,000.00 . . . the Board unanimously voted to approve the purchase of the mower [and] tiller and move forward to pursue this joint venture for [p]rescribed [burn] opportunities with Up in Smoke." (Doc. # 15-1 at 4.) Since at least late 2009 and early 2010, FFPD conducted prescribed burns with UIS, and incurred expenses for the prescribed burn operations. (Doc. # 15, ¶ 8.) However, Petrock did not draft an agreement with UIS, and an agreement  [**3] was never signed by UIS or FFPD. (Doc. ## 15, ¶ 6; 15-4 at 2.) Additionally, FFPD never received payment for the work it performed with UIS,2 and the project ultimately resulted in a loss to the FFPD of approximately $208,000. (Doc. ## 15-8 at 6; 20-4 at 2; 20-5 at 2.)

Plaintiff was diagnosed with cancer in September of 2010. (Doc. # 15, ¶ 16.) He filed a workers' compensation claim on October 17, 2010, relating to his cancer. (Doc. # 15-29.) Additionally,  [**4] he underwent multiple surgeries for his cancer. (Doc. # 20, ¶ 7.) At some point prior to being fired,3 Board Chairman Craig Corbin ("Corbin") instructed Plaintiff he "could not go out on [emergency] calls."4 (Doc. ## 20-2, ¶ 13; 20-26 at 3.)

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907 F. Supp. 2d 1242 *; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158365 **; 2012 WL 5389777


Subsequent History: Costs and fees proceeding at, Motion denied by Angell v. Fairmount Fire Prot. Dist., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33131 (D. Colo., Mar. 8, 2013)

Affirmed by Angell v. Fairmount Fire Prot. Dist., 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 25128 (10th Cir., Dec. 18, 2013)


termination, disability, cancer, Manual, at-will, facie, burn, disclaimer, prescribed, causal, nondiscriminatory, grievance, handbook, retaliation, impairment, quotation, retaliatory, nonmoving, temporal, genuine

Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Judgments, Evidentiary Considerations, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Materiality of Facts, Genuine Disputes, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Evidentiary Considerations, Absence of Essential Element, Opposing Materials, Accompanying Documentation, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Disabled Persons, Americans With Disabilities Act, Scope, Labor & Employment Law, Disability Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, General Overview, Business & Corporate Compliance, Enforcement Actions, Evidence, Employee Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Ultimate Burden of Persuasion, Disabilities Under ADA, Mental & Physical Impairments, Major Life Activities, Substantial Limitations, Qualified Individuals With Disabilities, Pleading & Practice, Motion Practice, Pretrial Judgments, Judgment on Pleadings, Regarded With Impairments, Disparate Treatment, Circumstantial & Direct Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Statutory Application, Wrongful Termination, Public Policy, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Coverage, Actions Against Employers, Retaliatory Discharge Actions, Legal Ethics, Client Relations, Conflicts of Interest, Retaliation, Elements, Causation, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Presumptions, Creation, Employment Relationships, At Will Employment, Public Employees, Exceptions, Express Contracts, Implied Contracts