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Ujoh v. Potter

August 10, 2010

BRANDY B. UJOH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant John Potter's, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service (hereinafter "USPS"), Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 14), which includes a Supplement (Doc. 18). Plaintiff Brandy Ujoh (hereinafter "Ujoh") filed a Memorandum (Doc. 19) thereto, to which Potter filed a Reply (Doc. 20).

For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the instant motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Facts

In analyzing a motion for summary judgment, the reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court, construing the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Ujoh, finds as follows:

In response to her interest and application to serve as a transitional city carrier with the East St. Louis Post Office, Ujoh received an interview, presumably in August or early September 2007, with Postmaster Dorothy Robinson (hereinafter "Postmaster Robinson"). The position at issue required one to walk at least six and a half hours per workday with a 30-pound pouch on their shoulder. At the conclusion of this interview, Postmaster Robinson shook Ujoh's hand and told her she was hired for the position.

On September 20, 2007, Ujoh received a letter from the USPS informing her that she was on the hiring register to become a transitional city carrier with the East St. Louis Post Office. This same letter stated that Ujoh was being screened for eligibility with the USPS and that she was not to resign from her current job as she had not received a job offer. Believing that Postmaster Robinson had previously extended a job offer which Ujoh had accepted, Ujoh ignored the letter's warning and quit her job in late November 2007.

Ujoh underwent a total left hip replacement in December 2005, and she underwent a total right hip replacement in November 2006. While these procedures occurred long before Ujoh met with Postmaster Robinson, they carried implications regarding her employment with the USPS.

On November 13, 2007, Ujoh met with her orthopedist, Dr. John Clohisy (hereinafter "Dr. Clohisy"), for a routine check-up.*fn1 At this check-up, Ujoh complained of moderate right hip and groin pain stemming from the hip replacement surgeries. This pain prevented Ujoh from getting in and out of a car or being able to walk more than six to twelve blocks. In an effort to inhibit the pain, Dr. Clohisy administered a steroid injection to Ujoh on November 16. Ujoh rated the pain in her right hip as a seven (on a scale of ten) before the injection and a four afterwards. Neither Dr. Clohisy nor Ujoh's primary physician placed Ujoh under any restrictions post-injection. In fact, a letter from Dr. Clohisy, dated May 14, 2010, states that Ujoh was released to work full-time following the injection.

After discovering that Ujoh had previously undergone the bi-lateral hip replacements, Postmaster Robinson decided to have her newest employee undergo a complete medical assessment, which took place on November 14, 2007. After informing the doctor of her hip replacement, Ujoh was told that she would have to undergo a second evaluation. In the interim, at the USPS's direction, Ujoh filled out a variety of employment forms under the belief that her start date was November 24.

On November 28, Karen Shockley, M.D., (hereinafter "Dr. Shockley") conducted Ujoh's medical evaluation. Dr. Shockley took an oral history from Ujoh, conducted a physical examination, and reviewed Ujoh's relevant medical records. In responding to the oral history, Ujoh did not mention her meeting with Dr. Clohisy or her steroid injection, which had occurred just 12 days prior.*fn2 Rather, Ujoh told Dr. Shockley that she was not experiencing any problems with her hips and that she was not in pain. Ujoh went on to state that she was not under any restrictions pertaining to her hips and she could walk, stand, and climb without limitation. Nevertheless, Shockley's "impression" was that "[w]hile walking is encouraged after total hip replacement, no literature has been found to support a total hip replacement patient's ability to perform full time (8 hours) walking/climbing/standing on a regular basis." (Doc. 14-1, p. 14). Her concluding remarks were, in relevant part, as follows:

While Ms. Ujoh does not report hip pain on today's exam, it is not reasonable to expect that she is capable of prolonged walking or getting in and out of vehicles repetitively. It is my medical opinion that [Ujoh] is not able to perform the duties of TE Carrier without restrictions. It is recommended that Ms. Ujoh be restricted to 4 hours/shift/walking/standing/climbing.

As Ms. Ujoh recently underwent treatment for right hip bursitis, her condition may be temporary. It is recommended that these restrictions [be] in place for at least 6 months. No opinion can be presented regarding the permanency of her ...


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