United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
For James Bradley, Plaintiff: Daniel Eduardo Arciniegas, Jon Craig Goldfarb, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantanzis, PC, Birmingham, AL; Lachlan William Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, Birmingham, AL.
For Army Fleet Support, a division of L-3 Communications, Defendant: Latisha Rhodes Davis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Armbrecht Jackson, LLP, Mobile, AL; William Robert Lancaster, LEAD ATTORNEY, William R. Lancaster, Mobile, AL.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
This cause is before the court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Army Fleet Support, LLC, a Division of L-3 Communications (" AFS" ) (Doc. #23), and two Motions to Strike filed by the Defendant (Doc. #41, 42).
The Plaintiff, James Bradley (" Bradley" ), filed a Complaint in this case on May 6, 2013, bringing claims against AFS for violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (" FMLA" ) through termination and retaliation.
For reasons to be discussed, the Motion for Summary Judgment is due to be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is proper " if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
The party asking for summary judgment " always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, relying on submissions which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.
Both the party asserting that a fact cannot be, and a party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed, must support their assertions by citing to particular parts of materials in the record, or by 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),(B). Acceptable materials under Rule 56(c)(1)(A) include depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.
To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party " must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). On the other hand, the evidence of the nonmovant must be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in its favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
After the nonmoving party has responded to the motion for summary judgment, the court shall grant summary judgment 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).
The submissions of the parties establish the following facts, construed in a light most favorable to the non-movant:
Bradley worked for AFS from November 1998 until March 2013. At the time of his termination, Bradley was a Technical Inspector. According to his Declaration, his job required him to " get on ladders and climb on aircraft." (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 13). Bradley is also the primary caregiver for his son who requires specialized medical care.
On March 4, 2013, Bradley informed AFS that he would need to use FMLA leave on March 18, 2013 to take his son to a doctor's appointment. On March 10, 2013, Bradley badly injured a finger on his left hand at home, and called his supervisor to inform him that he would be seeing an orthopedic surgeon about his finger the following day.
Bradley saw the orthopedic surgeon on March 11 and scheduled surgery for the next day, March 12. Bradley states in his Declaration that the surgeon informed him that he could expect to be out of work for four to six weeks, resulting in a return to work date between April 9 and April 23, 2013. (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 9). Also on March 11, Bradley called the Human Resources Department of AFS and was told by Human Resources Administrative Specialist Arlene Harris that all he needed to do to be out on leave for an extended period due to his injury was to tell his supervisor. Bradley called his supervisor, Jerry Lonidier (" Lonidier" ), and told him he was scheduled for surgery and could be out of work for four to six weeks and Lonidier said " ok." (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 11).
Bradley had surgery on March 12. On March 13, Bradley called Lonidier and they discussed his estimated return to work date of between April 9 and 23, 2013. Lonidier said he would make a note about Bradley's need for time off, his expected return date four to six weeks in the future, and his scheduled follow-up visit with the doctor on March 25, 2013. (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 13). Lonidier further told him that Bradley " had to be 100% before [he] could come back to work because there wasn't any secretary work [he] could do." (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 13). Bradley also learned that Lonidier would no longer be his supervisor and his new supervisor was Wayne Mowbray (" Mowbray" ).
Melvin Revert, an AFS employee, has stated in a Declaration that on March 13 he completed a log entry at the end of his shift which states as follows: " TI--James B. out surgery 4-6 weeks." (Doc. #29-7 at ¶ 5). Melvin Revert states that Lonidier told him Bradley would be out of work four to six weeks. (Doc. #29-7 at ¶ 5).
On March 14, Bradley spoke to his new supervisor, Mowbray, and told him about the surgery. He states in his Declaration that he told Mowbray he had had surgery on March 12, that he was expected to return to work somewhere between April 9
and 23, but he had a follow-up appointment scheduled for March 25, 2013, during which he hoped to get a more specific return to work date. (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 15). He states that " Mowbray said ok and assured me that I was taken care of." (Doc. #29-1 at ¶ 15).
By March 15, Bradley developed an infection, and scheduled a doctor's appointment for March 19. On March 17, Bradley took his son for the scheduled doctor's appointment.
On March 19, Bradley sent a text message to Mowbray and told him he had an appointment and was trying to get released to come back to work.
On March 20, Bradley saw the doctor who then provided him a note which said that Bradley had been released to " sedentary duty only, no use of right hand" and " may return to work on March 26, 2013." (Doc. #29-10). Bradley was unable to reach Mowbray by phone that day. On March 21, Bradley's wife took his doctor's note to Mowbray's office and left it there.
On Monday March 25, the doctor released Bradley to return to work on March 27, with no use of his right hand. (Doc. #29-11).
Also on March 25, Mowbray had an email exchange with Laura Swaim in AFS Human Resources reporting that Bradley had been out since March 11 with a finger injury and inquiring as to his status. (Doc. #44-5). Mowbray then reported by email to Theresa Davis, Human Resources Generalist II--Benefits, that Bradley had been out on employee sick leave. Theresa Davis told Mowbray in an email to change Bradley's leave code from " employee sick" to " unauthorized absence" and that the labor department needed to send a job abandonment letter. (Doc. #44-5).
Penny Westrick (" Westrick" ), the Manager of Labor Relations at AFS, gives a slightly different version of the events. She states in her Declaration that Mowbray informed her that Bradley was absent from work on March 20, 21, and March 22, and had not called in. (Doc. #24-3). Westrick states that the usual and customary policy at AFS is that an employee calls and notifies his supervisor that he will be absent from work and that an employee's failure to come to work as assigned and notify the appropriate person for three consecutive days is ...