United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Brenda Gaddis ("Gaddis") brings this action against
her former employer, defendant Brandywine Senior Care of
Haverford, LLC d/b/a Brandywine Senior Living at Haverford
Estates ("Brandywine"), for violations of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621
et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act, 43 Pa. Stat. §§ 951 et
seq.Before the court is the motion of
Brandywine for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 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). A dispute is genuine
if the evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986). We view
the facts and draw all inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party. See In re Flat Glass Antitrust Litig., 385
F.3d 350, 357 (3d Cir. 2004).
judgment is granted where there is insufficient record
evidence for a reasonable factfinder to find for the
nonmovant. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. "The
mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[nonmoving party]'s position will be insufficient; there
must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for
[that party]." Id. In addition, Rule 56(e) (2)
provides" [i] f a party fails to properly support an
assertion of fact or fails to properly address another
party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the
court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for the purposes
of the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).
following facts are undisputed. Brandywine is an assisted and
independent living facility for senior citizen residents. It
is licensed as a "personal care home" under
Pennsylvania law. See 55 Pa. Code § 26 00.1.
Brandywine is one of a group of related facilities that is
overseen by a corporate parent, Brandywine Senior Living, LLC
("BSL Corporate"). The facility is divided into two
units. One, called "Reflections," is designed for
residents with memory impairments. All other residents live
in the "Assisted Living" unit.
is a licensed practical nurse who began working for
Brandywine in 2000 as a Wellness Nurse in the facility's
Wellness Department, which provides nursing services to
residents. Gaddis provided care to residents in both the
Assisted Living and Reflections units. Gaddis reported to the
Wellness Director, who during the relevant time period was
Lisa Adoni ("Adoni"). Adoni in turn reported to the
facility's Executive Director, Michael West
("West"), and the Clinical Operations Manager for
BSL Corporate, Jo-Anna Reed ("Reed").
was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s. There is no dispute
that her diabetes has at times been uncontrolled and that she
has suffered from hypoglycemia. When her blood sugar is too low,
Gaddis sometimes sweats, gets hungry, and loses
consciousness. She also occasionally suffers from fatigue,
nausea, fast heart rate, and blood pressure issues due to her
diabetes. Gaddis cannot always predict when she is about to
have a hypoglycemic event.
maintains a "Medication Administration" policy to
ensure the safe storage, handling, and administration of
medication. That policy provides in relevant part:
A. All medication that is administered by the staff of
Brandywine Assisted Living Community will be given by a
D. Residents that are unable to self-administer their
medication . . . will be given their medication by the
[nurse] on duty.
F. Nursing Personnel that are administering medication will
refer to the resident's [Medication Administration Record
("MAR")] for orders and a resident photo.
G. All personnel will verify the medication orders on the MAR
with the orders in the resident record.
H. All personnel will follow the five medication
also maintains a "Disciplinary Procedures" policy.
That policy provides for progressive discipline with the
following steps: (1) informal counseling; (2) verbal warning;
(3) written warning; (4) final written warning; (5)
suspension pending investigation; and (6)
discharge. Most discipline should be provided in
writing on a "performance improvement notice" form.
However, "the company retains the right to bypass
progressive discipline steps based on responsibility at the
time, scope and severity of the issue" and the policy
further provides that"[r]epeated violations of the same
rule, violation of more than one rule in a single act, or
violations of different rules at different times are
considered just cause for accelerated or more serious
disciplinary action up to and including termination."
Termination of employment requires the approval of both the
employee's manager and the administrator or executive
director. If the employee has eight years of service or more
with the company, BSL Corporate must also approve any
termination before it may occur.
Pennsylvania regulations, the Pennsylvania Department of
Health ("DOH") is required to perform unannounced
inspections of facilities such as Brandywine. During an
inspection, representations from the DOH will observe nurses
administer medications for potential errors. The DOH has the
authority to cite and fine Brandywine for each medication
error it observes. As a result, it is critical that
Brandywine be prepared for state inspections. In April 2015,
the DOH inspected Brandywine and issued several citations for
deficiencies regarding medication administration observed
during an inspection.
assist with preparation for state inspections, Brandywine
contracts with Innovative Pharmaceutical Packaging
Corporation ("IPPC"). IPPC is an independent entity
that provides nursing consulting services to clients such as
Brandywine, including helping the clients to prepare for
state inspections, providing m-service education to
clients' nursing staff, and performing regular
"Medical Administration Observations"
("MAOs") of the clients' nurses. IPPC performed
multiple MAOS of Brandywine per year, with visits lasting
approximately two to three hours.
March 2015, Gaddis had a hypoglycemic incident while at home
in which she lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital
via ambulance. Gaddis was admitted for two days and
discharged on March 12, 2015. She returned to work on March
18, 2015 with a note from her physician clearing her to work
without any restrictions.
April 2, 2015, Gaddis was observed by Reed passing medication
to a resident without a MAR, that is, a Medication
Administration Record, in hand. The MAR is a piece of paper
that lists the medications a patient has been prescribed and
is used to record when medications are administered.
Referring to the MAR while administering medications helps
nurses adhere to Brandywine's Medication Administration
policy and decreases the likelihood of errors. Gaddis
received an oral warning for her failure to have a MAR in
hand. She was instructed to follow Brandywine policy and was
warned that further infractions would result in progressive
disciplinary action up to and including termination. Gaddis
does not dispute that she was required to have the MAR with
her when administering medication and that she failed to do
so on this occasion.
14, 2015, Gaddis received a final written warning after she
left medication in a cup with a resident seated at a dining
room table with other residents. The final written warning
stated that leaving medication unattended was detrimental to
the safety and well-being of residents. Gaddis explains that
she was distracted by a new nurse she was training and that
nurse was the one who left the medication unattended.
However, Gaddis does not dispute that she was responsible for
the trainee and her actions.
4, 2015, Gaddis suffered a hypoglycemic event at work. Toward
the end of her shift around 2:45 p.m., Gaddis began to feel
"a little shaky." She went to the breakroom to
purchase candy from the vending machine to raise her glucose
level. Unfortunately, Gaddis lost consciousness as she was
about to put money into the machine. Gaddis was observed by
other employees with coins in her mouth. West was called to
the scene and witnessed Gaddis slurring her speech and
speaking incomprehensibly. Paramedics were called to the
scene and Gaddis regained consciousness after approximately
fifteen minutes. Gaddis declined to be taken to the hospital
and was instead picked up by her husband. The next day,
Gaddis went to the emergency room. She was cleared by the
emergency room physician to return to work but advised to
follow up with her primary care physician, an
endocrinologist, and an ophthalmologist.
meantime, on June 4, 2015, West and Adoni emailed Reed and
Deborah Stine, the Chief Nursing Officer of ...