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STANSBERRY v. UBLICH CHILDREN'S HOME

May 21, 2003

MONTELL F. STANSBERRY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UHLICH CHILDREN'S HOME AND DARLENE Y. SOWELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AGENT OF UHLICH CHILDREN'S HOME, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

After Uhlich Children's home terminated Montell Stausberry, he brought a five count complaint against Uhlich and Darlene Sowell, his former supervisor. Stansberry alleges that Defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), the Family Medical Leave Act (the "FMLA"), and the anti-retaliation provision of the Bankruptcy Code. Stansberry also claims that Defendants committed intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliatory discharge. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion is denied in part and granted in part.

ALLEGATIONS

I. Stansberry's Employment And Injury

Beginning on March 21, 2000, Uhlich employed Stansberry as a child care worker at one of its group homes. (R. 27-1, Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 6, 11.) On October 27, a youth at one of Uhlich's facilities injured Stansberry. (Id. ¶ 12.) As a result, Stansberry aggravated and re-injured multiple herniated disks in his neck. (Id.) He also sustained a contusion to his groin area, injured his shoulder and developed a contusion. (Id.)

On March 14, 2001, doctors performed surgery on Stansberry to treat his hernia injuries. (R. 27-1, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Two months later, he returned to work with some restrictions. (Id. ¶ 16.) Even with those restrictions, he was able to perform the essential functions of his job. (Id.) Defendants regarded him as having a disability that substantially limited his major life activities. (Id. ¶ 2.) Sowell, who was Uhlich's vice president of human resources, told Stansberry that he should start looking for another career because of this disability. (Id.)

II. Stansberry Suffers Another Injury

On November 13, 2001, Stansberry was driving during the course and within the scope of his work when another vehicle rear-ended him. (R. 27-1, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 20.) This time, Stansberry sustained additional injuries to his neck. (Id.) On December 4, 2001, Stansberry's physician prepared a report that stated that Stansberry should remain off work until his next doctor's appointment. (Id. ¶ 23.) He diagnosed Stansberry with cervical radiculopathy and cervical fusion. (Id. ¶ 36.) Based on that diagnosis, Stansberry scheduled physical therapy and further medical treatment. (Id. ¶ 37.)

Later that day, after receiving the physician's report, Defendants told Stansberry that Uhlich would terminate him if he did not return to work in nine days. (Id. ¶ 24.) Defendants told Stansberry that Uhlich's physician had determined that he was fit for duty. (Id.) According to Defendants, Uhlich's physician's opinion was final and not subject to independent review. (Id.) Defendants also informed Stansberry that he could not schedule any additional future medical appointments during work hours. (Id. ¶ 26.) Stansberry returned to work on December 10, 2001. (R. 27-1, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 26.)

III. Stansberry's Bankruptcy

Stansberry filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection on July 23, 2001. (R. 27-1, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 49.) Uhlich granted Stansberry permission to attend a bankruptcy court hearing on December 13, 2001. (Id. ¶ 50.) On December 10, 2001, Stansberry reminded his employer of the hearing date. (Id. ¶ 26.)

IV. Termination

Uhlich terminated Stansberry in a letter that he received on December 14, 2001. (R. 27-1, Second Am. Compl. ΒΆ 27.) Uhlich's stated reason for termination was that he left work without permission the previous day. (Id.) Stansberry filed a charge of discrimination against Uhlich on July 10, 2002. (R. 27-1, Second ...


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