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Miller v. North American Lighting

March 19, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge


This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment (#23) filed by Defendant, North American Lighting, Inc. (NAL) and the Motion for Summary Judgment (#24) filed by Defendant, Paris Community Hospital/Family Medical Center (PCH). This court has carefully reviewed the parties' arguments and the documents presented by the parties. Following this careful and thorough review, NAL's Motion for Summary Judgment (#23) is GRANTED. Because this results in judgment in favor of NAL on Plaintiff's federal claims, this court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claim against PCH. That claim is therefore dismissed without prejudice.


Plaintiff, Douglas L. Miller, was hired by NAL on March 3, 2003, as an operator in assembly. He later transferred to the shipping department. At the time he was hired, Plaintiff was required to undergo a physical examination and complete a medical questionnaire, which he filled out completely and truthfully. At the time Plaintiff was hired, NAL was aware that Plaintiff suffered from "slight asthma," some back pain, and anxiety, and was aware of all the medications Plaintiff took for these conditions, including Xanax for chronic anxiety. From the outset of his employment with NAL, Plaintiff was aware of NAL's drug testing policy, including the fact that he would be tested for illegal drugs such as marijuana, and a positive test would result in discharge.

In September 2004, Plaintiff requested leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) after he was hospitalized several days for acute bronchial asthma and acute bronchitis. At that time, Plaintiff had used up all sick leave and other forms of leave available to him. Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he experienced no difficulty in obtaining approval for the FMLA leave. On November 22, 2004, Plaintiff was selected for a random drug test. Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he knew that one of the drugs being tested for was marijuana. He also testified that he had no complaints about the way the drug test was administered or the fact that he was selected for the test. The results of this drug test were negative.

Plaintiff testified that he was next selected for a random drug test in August 2005, but there is no record of the results of any drug test in August 2005. On August 1, 2005, Plaintiff picked up forms for an FMLA leave. Plaintiff missed work during the period of September 7-12, 2005, and October 13-15, 2005, because of bronchial asthma, pharyngitis and sinusitis. He did not turn in his request for FMLA leave until October 27, 2005. Plaintiff's absences in September and October 2005 were retroactively approved as FMLA leave on October 31, 2005. Plaintiff was also approved at that time for intermittent leave in the future for his asthmatic and related conditions. Plaintiff was subsequently granted FMLA leave on 16 days between November 8, 2005 and March 16, 2006. Plaintiff testified that he called in and spoke to Shelly Murphy and said that he had breathing problems. Murphy then completed the paperwork and he was granted FMLA leave for those absences.

On March 20, 2006, Plaintiff was selected for a drug test and submitted a urine sample. Plaintiff testified that he was not claiming that he was not randomly selected for a drug test on that date. Plaintiff also testified that he has no facts to support a claim that his selection for any drug test required by NAL was not random. Mark Pitchford, NAL's human resources manager, testified that Plaintiff was selected by a routine, random process. Pitchford testified that the monthly lists of employees randomly selected for drug testing was generated at the corporate level for each plant.

Plaintiff testified that, when he was in line for the drug test, his supervisor, Doug Starkey, came and moved him to the front of the line because Starkey needed him back at work right away. Plaintiff testified that he could not explain how that interfered with the drug testing process. Plaintiff testified that he provided a list of all of the medications he was taking at that time including Avenza, which was morphine, and Norco. Plaintiff testified that he expected to test positive for opiates because of the pain medication he was taking.

Susan Livvix of PCH collected the urine specimens for drug testing on March 20, 2006. PCH had an agreement with NAL to conduct drug testing of employees for NAL. Plaintiff testified that the procedure on March 20, 2006 was not any different from the procedure for the drug test on November 22, 2004. Plaintiff testified that he would not say that the collection procedure that he underwent on March 20, 2006, was flawed. He stated, however, that he did not see the woman overseeing the drug test seal the urine specimen. He acknowledged that he signed a certification that day which stated, "I certify that I provided my urine specimen to the collector; that I have not adulterated it in any manner; each specimen bottle used was sealed with a tamper-evident seal in my presence; and that the information provided on this form and on the label affixed to each specimen bottle is correct." Plaintiff testified that he did not read the certification before he signed it.

The urine sample provided by Plaintiff was tested at PCH and showed a positive result for THC and for opiates. The positive result was confirmed by the GC/MS method by LabCorp. Plaintiff testified that Mr. Gilbert from PCH, who identified himself as the medical director, called him regarding the results of the drug test. Plaintiff testified that Gilbert asked him about his medications and Plaintiff told him the dosage he was taking, the name of the doctor who prescribed the medications, the pharmacy where he got the prescriptions filled and their phone numbers. Plaintiff testified that Gilbert asked him why he might test positive for THC and Plaintiff told Gilbert he "had no idea." Plaintiff testified that he knew that THC was associated with the usage of marijuana. Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he last used marijuana about 26 years ago, when he was 18 or 19 years old.

Dr. Daniel Gilbert testified that he was the medical review officer for PCH. He testified that he contacted Plaintiff regarding the results of Plaintiff's drug test. Dr. Gilbert then contacted Plaintiff's pharmacy and verified that Plaintiff had a current prescription for each medication. Dr. Gilbert, on behalf of PCH, communicated Plaintiff's positive test result for THC to NAL. Dr. Gilbert did not report a positive test result for opiates because he had confirmed Plaintiff's prescriptions for pain medication.

On March 27, 2006, NAL terminated Plaintiff's employment after it received the report of the positive test for THC. Pitchford testified that any time the hospital certifies the presence of illegal drugs in an employee's system, the employee's employment is terminated. NAL submitted documentation showing that every employee who tested positive for drugs was terminated. Plaintiff testified that the positive test for THC was wrong because he never used marijuana. He testified, however, that he was not making any claim that NAL knew the test result was wrong or that NAL was not entitled to rely on the report of the positive drug test. Plaintiff testified that he requested a copy of the positive drug screen results from PCH and a copy was provided to him.

Om October 25, 2007, Plaintiff filed his Complaint (#1) against NAL and PCH. Plaintiff alleged that NAL violated the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff also alleged that PCH negligently performed the drug test and sought damages pursuant to Illinois law. Both NAL and PCH filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Both Motions are fully briefed and ready for ruling.



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