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Scott v. UPMC

August 10, 2010

AUDREY SCOTT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UPMC, D/B/A UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Introduction

Before the Court is defendant University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's ("UPMC") Motion for Summary Judgment on plaintiff Audrey E. Scott's claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654. After careful consideration of the motion for summary judgment, response thereto, the memoranda of law in support and in opposition to summary judgment, and the documents, deposition testimony and other matters that have been produced by the parties in support of their positions, the Court finds that plaintiff has not met her burden of proving that she has a "serious health condition" so as to trigger the protections of the FMLA or her entitlement to leave or benefits. The Court will, therefore, grant summary judgment in favor of UPMC.

II. Background

Ms. Scott worked on the housekeeping staff for UPMC, a large urban hospital in Pittsburgh. Ms. Scott filed her Complaint on November 5, 2009, claiming at Count I that UPMC violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act and willfully interfered with, restrained and denied her the exercise of rights provided by the FMLA and its implementing regulations, and at Count II, that UPMC retaliated against her for attempting to assert her FLMA rights, based on the following averments.

On or about July 2, 2009, Ms. Scott presented to her supervisor a note from Manuel Castillo, M.D., a treating physician, which indicated she was restricted to "light duty for four weeks." Complaint, § 8. After consultation with another supervisor, plaintiff was advised there was no light duty and that she should immediately "clock out." Complaint, § 9.

On July 7, 2009, Ms. Scott contacted Work Partners, which handled FLMA leave matters for UPMC. Work Partners initiated a file reference and informed Ms. Scott that she would receive necessary paperwork from a leave specialist within 48 hours. Complaint, §§10-12. Ms. Scott alleges that over the next several weeks, she made various communications with UPMC and Work Partners personnel, Complaint, § 13-17, and that on or about July 21, 2009, she furnished to UPMC Dr. Castillo's attending physician statement outlining Ms. Scott's medical condition [back pain] and restrictions, and specifically indicating that she was not able to return to "full-time, full-duty without restrictions. However, Dr. Castillo identifies numerous restrictions including that she is restricted to 'light' defined as maximum of lifting of up to 20 pounds in additional limitations. Dr. Castillo's report dated July 21, 2009 continues to state that her first symptoms appeared on or about November 6, 2008, that a surgery was completed on November 14, 2008 and provided additional diagnostic information including diagnosis, objective findings on examination, and subjective symptoms." Complaint, § 17.

By letter of August 14, 2009, Jack Grandy, Director of Environmental Services for UPMC, informed Ms. Scott that UPMC could accommodate her medical "light duty" restrictions, that he had previously sent a letter advising her to return to work on August 4, 2009, and that as a result of her actions, her "employment with UPMC and UPMC Mercy is terminated effective July 2, 2009." Complaint, § 18. Plaintiff acknowledges that on or about July 15, 2009, Mr. Grandy informed Ms. Scott that he could accommodate her on the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift in a light duty capacity. Complaint, § 19.

Plaintiff further avers that Work Partners sent Ms. Scott a letter dated September 14, 2009, informing her that she had to return requested paperwork by September 29, 2009, or else her failure to return to work "could result in corrective action including termination," and that "[n]otwithstanding information being provided, UPMC terminated Ms. Scott's employment instead of processing her requested FMLA leave." Complaint, §§ 20-22.

Based on the foregoing, plaintiff claims that UPMC's conduct in terminating her is a violation of the FMLA "insofar as both interfering with and denying her requested leave," and that UPMC retaliated against her in violation of the FLMA for asserting her right to medical leave. Complaint, §§ 22, 29, 31.

III. Summary Judgment Standards

Summary judgment is only proper when there is no genuine issue of material fact in the case and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). The Court's role in reviewing a motion for summary judgment is "not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but only to determine whether the evidence of record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009). If so, summary judgment will not be granted.

Moreover, the Court "must view all of the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, who is 'entitled to every reasonable inference that can be drawn from the record.' Merkle v. Upper Dublin Sch. Dist., 211 F.3d 782, 788 (3d Cir. 2000). '[W]hen there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences to be drawn from them, a trial is required to resolve the conflicting versions of the parties.' Peterson v. Lehigh Valley ...


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