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Bryant v. The Pavilion Foundation

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

February 13, 2014

KRISTEN K. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
v.
THE PAVILION FOUNDATION, d/b/a THE PAVILION BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEM, Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

HAROLD A. BAKER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kristen Bryant ("Bryant") commenced this action on June 14, 2012, pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 2601 et seq. ("FMLA"). She claims that her employer, the defendant Pavilion Foundation (the "Pavilion") interfered with her right to take FMLA leave, and when she returned to work after taking FMLA leave, the Pavilion retaliated against her for exercising her FMLA rights.

The Pavilion has filed a motion for summary judgment. Bryant filed a response, and the Pavilion filed a reply. The matter is now fully briefed.

BACKGROUND

The Pavilion is a psychiatric treatment center located in Champaign, Illinois. It provides inpatient and outpatient services to patients with severe and chronic psychiatric, behavioral, emotional, and/or addictive diseases.

Bryant worked at the Pavilion for a short time in 2007. She was rehired as a Mental Health Technician ("MHT") in June 2008. She was eventually promoted to Lead MHT and worked primarily second shift in the inpatient youth unit. The patients in her unit suffered from a range of disorders and generally fell on the aggressive, hostile spectrum. Sometimes, a child would require a one-to-one staffing ratio. At times, two children in the unit would require one-to-one staffing. Bryant stated that there were a lot of outbursts, and things could get thrown, and there could be hitting or pushing or biting.

The job sometimes required Bryant to lift patients to assist them with their activities of daily living, and sometimes, to physically restrain a patient. MHTs frequently sit, stand, walk, kneel, and crouch, squat, or stoop. One time, Bryant was restraining a patient and was kicked in the back. Another time, she was thrown into a door frame. In another instance, she was running a group session and a patient kicked in the door, sending a chair toward Bryant which hit her in the back.

When Bryant became Lead MHT in or about the late summer or fall of 2009, she frequently worked weekends for which she received a higher rate of pay.

On May 28, 2010, Bryant was at her home when she injured her ankle. She saw a doctor who provided a note indicating that Bryant would be out of work until June 2, 2010. In the interim, an MRI was performed and she was diagnosed with a tear in her right ankle ligament. Bryant was referred to a specialist who filled out FMLA paperwork on June 3, 2010. The FMLA paperwork indicated that Bryant could not perform the job functions of weight bearing, walking, and lifting. Bryant was placed in an orthopedic boot and excused from work from June 3 to June 15, 2010. The specialist extended her return date several times, to June 24, July 12, July 30, and August 30, 2010.

There is no dispute that Bryant was able and prepared to return to work on August 30, 2010. However, she was relieved of her position as Lead MHT, and returned to work as MHT with a commensurate pay reduction.

ANALYSIS

Summary judgment should be granted "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) ( citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a "genuine" issue, there must be more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

"Summary judgment is the put up or shut up' moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events." Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2000). "If a party... fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may... grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting ...


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