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Kauffman v. St. Mary Medical Center

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 22, 2014



HARVEY BARTLE, III, District Judge.

Plaintiff Rebecca Kauffman ("Kauffman") has filed this action against her former employer, defendant St. Mary Medical Center ("St. Mary"), under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq., and Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. Now before the court is the motion of St. Mary for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Kauffman was employed as an overnight unit clerk from 2007 until October 25, 2012 when her employment was terminated. While St. Mary asserts that it fired Kauffman because she repeatedly had been caught sleeping on the job, Kauffman urges that she was fired as a result of numerous health-related issues which include chronic migraines, vertigo, a sleep disorder, neurological problems, chronic fatigue, and light sensitivity. She additionally claims that St. Mary failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations and that it terminated her in retaliation for her making those requests.


Summary judgment is appropriate "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Rule 56(c) states:

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by... citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or... showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986). Summary judgment is granted where there is insufficient record evidence for a reasonable factfinder to find for the plaintiffs. Id. at 252. "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the factfinder could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Id.

When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, we may only rely on admissible evidence. See, e.g., Blackburn v. United Parcel Serv., Inc. , 179 F.3d 81, 95 (3d Cir. 1999). We view the facts and draw all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. In re Flat Glass Antitrust Litig. , 385 F.3d 350, 357 (3d Cir. 2004). However, "an inference based upon a speculation or conjecture does not create a material factual dispute sufficient to defeat entry of summary judgment." Robertson v. Allied Signal, Inc. , 914 F.2d 360, 382 n.12 (3d Cir. 1990).


The following facts are undisputed or viewed in the light most favorable to Kauffman as the nonmovant. Kauffman was employed by St. Mary as an overnight unit clerk in its Critical Care Unit from July 9, 2007 until her termination on October 25, 2012. She was supervised in that role by Kathy Krol ("Krol"), a Nurse Manager, starting in 2008. Donna Marino ("Marino") was the Director of Human Resources at the time.

Kauffman suffers from a number of symptoms related to a variety of illnesses. Those symptoms include chronic migraines, vertigo, seizure-related problems, a sleep disorder, neurological problems, and other complications such as fatigue and light sensitivity.

Kauffman had first been diagnosed with vertigo in 1996. In July 2011, she was seen by her doctor after a fainting episode that she experienced while she was at church. In September 2011, Kauffman underwent a sleep study, the results of which suggested that narcolepsy or hypersomnia related to the central nervous system should be further investigated. She was assessed in November 2011 for hypersomnia, snoring, insufficient sleep syndrome, and a kidney stone. After this visit, Kauffman was not seen by a health care professional for any relevant medical issue until November 6, 2012 almost a year later and subsequent to her termination.

In late September or early October 2012, Krol observed that Kauffman was not feeling well when she visited Kauffman's work station. Kauffman explained that she was dealing with fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, light and sound sensitivity, migraines to the point of throwing up, and fainting episodes. She said that her "doctor was looking into it and making referrals." She further told Krol that she "may or may not" need to take a night or two off in order to have diagnostic tests performed in the future. While her medical records make it clear that she did not in fact see a doctor in late September or early ...

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