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Meyer v. St. John's Hospital of Hospital Sisters of Third of St Francis

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

April 19, 2017

TIFFANY MEYER, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. JOHN'S HOSPITAL of the HOSPITAL SISTERS of the THIRD OF ST. FRANCIS, Defendant.

          OPINION

          TOM SCHANZLE-HASKINS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE:

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant St. John's Hospital of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis's (St. John's) Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Supplemental Expert Disclosure and Plaintiff's Designation of Julie Ulery as an Expert Witness (d/e 38) (Motion 38) and Plaintiff Tiffany Meyer's Motion for Leave to Amend Scheduling Order, or, in the Alternative, Strike the Opinion Testimony of Colleen Stauffer (d/e 41) (Motion 41). For the reasons set forth below, Motion 38 is DENIED and Motion 41 is ALLOWED in part. The Scheduling Order is amended to allow Meyer's late designation of Ulery as an expert witness and to allow St.

         John's to designate a responsive expert within 30 days after the deposition of Ulery.

         BACKGROUND

         St. John's employed Meyer as a dietician. On July 8, 2014, St. John's terminated Meyer's employment. Meyer alleges St. John's fired her because of her disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. See Complaint (d/e 1). Meyer alleges that she suffers from McCune-Albright Syndrome with Fibrous Dysplasia. Her condition “impairs her ability to walk, stand, and stay in one position for long periods of time.” Meyer “uses a wheelchair or crutches and frequently rotates between standing and sitting to avoid pain, muscle fatigue and muscle strain.” Complaint, ¶ 11. She alleges St. John's terminated her because she asked for a reasonable accommodation for her limited mobility. See Complaint, ¶ 21.

         St. John's told Meyer she was terminated for a lack of clinical competence. The termination notice stated:

Tiffany, you are being terminated due to lack of clinical competence which poses a risk to patient safety. Also, you do not exhibit the core values of care, competence, respect, and joy.

Motion 41, Exhibit C, Performance Action Plan dated July 8, 2014; see Complaint, ¶ 21. On July 8, 2014, Meyer wrote an email to a friend and co-worker Jacqueline Wilcox which stated, in part,

So today was pretty crappy. I got fired. No joke.
Colleen said she reviewed my chart audits and found I didn't recommend a low fiber diet for someone with diverticulitis (I put general) and for a home TF pt who was not tolerating her TF, I recommended to continue the same tube-feeding instead of recommending Vital 1.2 for better tolerance, and I also didn't mention the fact that someone had diarrhea through their whole stay. So all that was a "patient safety risk" and I was terminated for lack of clinical competency. No chance to explain myself or review the records. Just fired. No prior inkling that anything was wrong, just straight to firing.

Defendant's Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend the Scheduling order, or, in the Alternative, Strike Opinion Testimony of Colleen Stauffer (d/e 45) (St. John's Response), Exhibit 2, Email dated July 8, 2014. The parties refer to the two patients identified in Meyer's email as Patient B and Patient H. The person identified as “Colleen” in the email is Colleen Stauffer, Clinical Nutrition Manager at St. John's. Stauffer was Meyer's supervisor and conducted the audit of the patient charts.

         The Scheduling Order required Meyer to disclose experts by November 11, 2016. Meyer disclosed one expert on that date, Wilbur Swearingin, a rehabilitation expert to testify about the alleged failure to accommodate. St. John's deadline to disclose experts was December 11, 2016. St. John's did not disclose any experts. See Scheduling Order entered March 4, 2016 (d/e 14); St. John's Response, Exhibit 4, Plaintiff's Expert Disclosure.

         On March 2, 2017, St. John's deposed Meyer. Meyer testified at her deposition that in her clinical judgment she treated Patient B and Patient H appropriately. St. John's Response, Exhibit 5, Excerpts of Deposition ofTiffany Meyer, at 123-32, 181-85. ...


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