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Garnerr v. St. Clair County Illinois

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 1, 2016

KELLI GARNER, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed a Motion (Doc. 72) for Partial Summary Judgment on Count I and the defendant filed a timely response (Doc. 85). Plaintiff filed a reply (Doc. 88) which states exceptional circumstances as required by Local Rule 7.1. As such, the Court will consider plaintiff's reply.

         The Defendant filed a Motion (Doc. 75) for Summary Judgment and the plaintiff filed a timely response (Doc. 86). Defendant also filed a reply (Doc. 91) which states exceptional circumstances and the Court will consider defendant's reply.

         1. Background.

         Plaintiff's second amended complaint (Doc. 30), alleges that the defendant violated the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. (“FMLA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”), and the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101, et. seq. (“IHRA”). Specifically, the second amended complaint states that the plaintiff was employed by St. Clair County in the small claims division from May 2013, until her termination in January 2015. Plaintiff claims she was terminated after she requested leave under FMLA and that the defendant failed to reasonably accommodate plaintiff's disability.

         2. Standard.

         Summary judgment must 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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). 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); Chelios v. Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 685 (7th Cir. 2008); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.

         The initial summary judgment burden of production is on the moving party to show the Court that there is no reason to have a trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 2013). Where the non-moving party carries the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden of production in one of two ways. It may present evidence that affirmatively negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A), or it may point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the non-moving party's case without actually submitting any evidence, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-25; Modrowski, 712 F.3d at 1169. Where the moving party fails to meet its strict burden, a court cannot enter summary judgment for the moving party even if the opposing party fails to present relevant evidence in response to the motion. Cooper v. Lane, 969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).

         In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings, but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57; Modrowski, 712 F.3d at 1168. A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of “some alleged factual dispute between the parties, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if “a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         2. Analysis.

         Plaintiff is moving for partial summary judgment on Count I of her Second Amended Complaint. Count I alleges that the defendant interfered with the plaintiff's Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) rights in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1) by terminating her employment.

         In general, the Family and Medical Leave Act (''FMLA'') provides leave for qualified employees who must be absent from work for family or medical reasons. 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.; Price v. City of Fort Wayne, 117 F.3d 1022, 1023 (7th Cir.1997). Specifically, the FMLA seeks to provide up to twelve weeks employment leave within a twelve-month period for an eligible employee who suffers, or who has a family member who suffers, from a serious health condition. The FMLA defines ''serious health condition'' as ''an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves--(A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or (B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.'' 29 U.S.C. § 2611(11); see Price, 117 F.3d at 1024.

         The FMLA specifically allows the covered employee to take such leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary, even though the employer may not agree to such arrangement. 29 U.S.C. § 2612(b)(1). ''Intermittent leave'' encompasses leave taken in separate blocks of time because of a single illness or injury, rather than leave taken for one continuous period of time. It also may include leave in periods from an hour or more to several weeks. 29 C.F.R. ' 825.205(a).

         29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1-2) makes it unlawful for any employer, “to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this subchapter” or to “discharge or in any other manner discriminate against ...

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