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Jones v. Children's Hosp.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 10, 2014

KEICIA JONES, Plaintiff
v.
CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL ET AL., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Keicia Jones, Plaintiff: Dale Edward Williams, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Dale Edward Williams, Covington, LA; Chad A. Danenhower, Law Office of Dale Edward Williams, Covington, LA.

For Children's Hospital, Walter Pierre, Jr., Defendants: Stephen Mark Klyza, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kullman Firm (New Orleans), New Orleans, LA; Adria N. Kimbrough, Heather F. Crow, Kullman Firm (New Orleans), New Orleans, LA.

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ORDER & REASONS

SUSIE MORGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

The Court has pending before it Defendants Children's Hospital and Walter Pierre, Jr.'s Motion for Summary Judgment against Plaintiff, Keicia Jones.[1] The Court has reviewed the briefs,[2] the record, and the applicable law, and now issues this Order and Reasons.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Keicia Jones (" Jones" ), is a former employee of Defendant Children's Hospital (" the Hospital" ) and started working as a PBX (Switchboard) Operator in January of 2009.[3] In late January of 2013, she applied for intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (" FMLA" ) to care for her ill husband and take him to dialysis treatment.[4] The request was approved by the Hospital on February 5, 2013.[5] Jones testifies that shortly after her leave request was approved, her supervisor, Defendant Walter Pierre, Jr. (" Pierre" ), told her that she could not take the FMLA leave because the Hospital was short-staffed at her position.[6] A few months later on June 26, 2013, Jones was terminated from her employment.[7] The stated reason was for " rude offensive angry threatening behavior toward other employees and spending excessive time on a personal call while on duty." [8]

Jones filed suit against the Hospital and Pierre on November 22, 2013 alleging that the reason given for her termination was pretextual.[9] Jones's Complaint claims that she was really terminated in retaliation for requesting FMLA leave or her likelihood of requesting FMLA leave again, and she further alleges that her supervisor, Pierre, interfered with her right to leave under the FMLA and that the Hospital negligently

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supervised its employees.[10] Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment with respect to all of Plaintiff's claims: FMLA retaliation, FMLA interference, and negligent supervision.[11]

Defendants Children's Hospital and Walter Pierre, Jr. assert in their motion for summary judgment that Jones was not retaliated against but instead was terminated after an alleged incident occurred while she was on duty during which Jones made threatening remarks to her co-workers and was on a personal phone call for an excessive period of time, all in violation of the Hospital's policies.[12] Further, Plaintiff had a documented history of unprofessional conduct.[13] Defendants state that although Pierre had knowledge of her protected status he did not interfere with her taking leave and actually approved multiple leave requests made by Jones.[14] Additionally, they contend Pierre was not involved in the decision to terminate her, and neither the recommender of Plaintiff's termination, the Director of Materials Management and Communications of the Hospital Dennis Miranda (" Miranda" ), nor the ultimate decision maker, the Vice President of Human Resources Douglas Mittelstaedt (" Mittelstaedt" ), was aware of the fact that Plaintiff had requested and been approved for intermittent FMLA leave.[15] Plaintiff responds that the motion should be denied because there are genuine issues of material facts.[16]

STANDARD OF LAW

Summary judgment is appropriate only " 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." [17] " An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action." [18] When assessing whether a material factual dispute exists, the Court considers " all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence." [19] All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the non-moving party.[20] There is no genuine issue of material fact if, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, no reasonable trier of fact could find for the non-moving party, thus entitling the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.[21]

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If the dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party " must come forward with evidence which would 'entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.'" [22] If the moving party fails to carry this burden, the motion must be denied. If the moving party successfully carries this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists.[23] Once the burden has shifted, the non-moving party must direct the Court's attention to something in the pleadings or other evidence in the record that sets forth specific facts sufficient to establish that a genuine issue of material fact does indeed exist.[24]

If the dispositive issue is one on which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, however, the moving party may satisfy its burden by simply pointing out that the evidence in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential element of the non-moving party's claim.[25] The non-moving party must then respond, either by " calling the Court's attention to supporting evidence already in the record that was overlooked or ignored by the moving party" or by coming forward with additional evidence.[26] " [U]nsubstantiated assertions are not competent summary judgment evidence. The party opposing summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports his or ...


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