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Luke v. Cplace Forest Park, SNF, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 4, 2014

ERYON LUKE,
v.
CPLACE FOREST PARK, SNF, LLC

RULING AND ORDER

BRIAN A. JACKSON, Chief District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 10), seeking an order dismissing Plaintiff's claims in their entirety, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56, as well as an order holding Plaintiff liable for attorney's fees. Plaintiff opposes this motion. (Doc. 12). Upon being granted leave, Defendant filed a Reply Brief in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 22). The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367. Additional briefing is not required. Oral argument is not necessary.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Eryon Luke asserts several discrimination-related claims against Defendant CPlace Forest Park, SNF, LLC d/b/a Nottingham Regional Rehab Center ("Nottingham"), which is owned by Traditions Senior Management. Plaintiff's allegations stem from her fulltime employment at Nottingham as a certified nursing assistant ("CNA") from October 10, 2011 to May 24, 2012. ( See Doc. 12 at p. 1). As a CNA, Plaintiff's job responsibilities included turning residents in bed, lifting patients from their beds to wheelchairs, pushing residents in wheelchairs, and ensuring that patients did not fall while walking. (Doc. 12 at p. 4).

On December 2, 2011, Plaintiff learned she was six weeks pregnant with twins. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4). Plaintiff returned to work the next day with a note from her doctor certifying that she was able to work, provided that she did not engage in heavy lifting for two weeks. ( Id. ). On December 3 and 4, Plaintiff's immediate supervisor permitted Plaintiff to do "light duty" work that did not involve heavy lifting. ( Id. at ¶ 5). On December 5, Plaintiff met with Rachael Carcamo, Human Resources Payroll Manager for Defendant, to discuss Plaintiff's lifting restrictions. ( Id. at ¶ 6). Plaintiff remained off work until her doctor signed a release removing lifting restrictions on December 12, 2011. ( Id. at ¶ 7). On January 22, 2012, Plaintiff brought a doctor's note certifying that Plaintiff could not lift more than thirty pounds for the remainder of her pregnancy. (Doc. 12 at p. 5). Plaintiff admitted that she was physically unable to perform her job as a CNA after her doctor issued these heavy-lifting restrictions. (Doc. 12-1 at pp. 98, 99-100). January 22, 2012 was the last day Plaintiff performed any work at Nottingham. (Doc. 12 at p. 5).

On January 23, 2012, Plaintiff was informed that she needed to pick up paperwork for leave. ( Id. at ¶ 5(C)). Defendant issued FMLA forms specifying that Plaintiff would take leave from January 23, 2012 to May 23, 2012. (Doc. 12 at p. 6; see also Doc. 12-3 at p. 1).

On May 23, Carcamo met with Plaintiff and informed Plaintiff that there was no work available for Plaintiff, subject to Plaintiff's lifting restrictions, and that Plaintiff's employment would be terminated on May 24 if Plaintiff could not return to work then. (Doc. 12 at p. 6). Plaintiff's employment at Nottingham ended on May 24, 2012. ( See Doc. 12 at p. 1). Plaintiff delivered her twins on June 21, 2012. (Doc. 12 at p. 6).

Plaintiff's Complaint asserts that she was subject to discriminatory employment practices based on her pregnancy, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 ("PDA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k); the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. ; and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law ("LEDL"), La. R.S. 23:301, et seq. (Doc. 1). Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment seeks to dismiss these claims with prejudice and also seeks an order assessing fees against Plaintiff for the frivolous filing of claims under La. R.S. 23:303(B). (Doc. 10). Plaintiff opposes Defendant's Motion. (Doc. 12).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[W]hen a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation marks and footnote omitted). "This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence." Little v. Liquid Air Corp. , 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (quotation marks and citations omitted). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court "view[s] facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in her favor." Coleman v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist. , 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).

In sum, summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, [the non-moving party] fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

III. DISCUSSION

a. Title VII

Under Title VII, as amended by the PDA, Plaintiff claims that: (1) Defendant unlawfully terminated Plaintiff's employment in May 2012, and (2) Defendant unlawfully prohibited Plaintiff from working regularly after Plaintiff returned from a ...


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