United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Blodgett (“Plaintiff”) has sued 22 South Street
Operations, LLC (“22 South Street Operations”)
under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), for
both interference and retaliation, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), for failure to
accommodate and retaliation, as well under the Connecticut
Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), for
disability discrimination and retaliation. Complaint, ECF No.
1, at 5-12.
South Street Operations now has moved for summary judgment in
this case. Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 70.
following reasons, the Court GRANTS 22 South
Street Operation's motion for summary judgment as to the
ADA and FMLA claims.
Court also declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over Ms. Blodgett's state law claims and therefore
directs the Clerk of Court to close this case.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
South Street Operations owns and operates Fox Hill Center, a
150-bed skilled nursing facility with 148 employees in
Rockville, Connecticut. Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities June 6, 2016 Letter, ECF No. 78-11; Compl. at
¶ 14 (“Defendant owns and operates the Fox Hill
Center located at 1253 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon, Connecticut
06066”). Licensed by the Connecticut Department of
Public Health, Fox Hill Center must adhere to federal and
state nursing requirements and federal guidelines on Medicare
and Medicaid funds. Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities June 6, 2016 Letter, ECF No. 78-11.
December 2008, Fox Hill Center hired Jennifer Blodgett to
work as a Licensed Practical Nurse/management-level Charge
Nurse. Affidavit of Gaye Cassells, ECF No. 71-1
(“Cassells Aff.”), at ¶ 3. In that role, Ms.
Blodgett's essential job functions were to:
“Directly provide safe care and nursing services for
elderly, infirmed patients; Supervise and coordinate nursing
personnel in providing direct patient care; Develop and
implement patient care plans to ensure patient safety and
comfort; Assist physicians in examination and patient
care.” Id. In addition, Ms. Blodgett had to
“[c]ontribute to an environment that is respectful,
team-oriented, and responsive to the concerns of staff,
patients and families.” Id. at ¶ 5.
March 2012, Fox Hill Center met with Ms. Blodgett after she
allegedly “failed to appropriately handle a
‘combative' dementia patient.” Id.
at ¶ 6; Ex. 2 to Ex. A, ECF No. 71-1.
October 2014, Fox Hill Center disciplined Ms. Blodgett for
“‘verbally abusing' at least one dementia
patient.” Cassells Aff. at ¶ 9. After
investigating the incident, Fox Hill Center “concluded
that Plaintiff had ‘yelled at least one
resident.'” Id. at 10; Ex. 3 to Ex. A, ECF
No. 71-1, at 1. Fox Hill Center contends that it
“clearly instructed Plaintiff that she would be
terminated if any similar any similar instances occurred in
the future.” Cassells Aff. at ¶ 11; Ex. 3 to Ex.
A, ECF No. 71-1, at 2.
April 20, 2015, Ms. Blodgett received a performance
evaluation, noting that, at that time, she “exceeds
expectations.” Ex. P5, ECF No. 78-8.
December 16, 2015, Fox Hill Center fired Ms. Blodgett's
son, who also worked at Fox Hill Center in the kitchen area,
for performance issues. Cassells Aff. at ¶¶ 13-14.
The Human Resources Department asked Gaye Cassells to let Ms.
Blodgett know of her son's termination. Id. at
¶ 16. After Ms. Cassells told Ms. Blodgett of her
son's termination, Ms. Blodgett allegedly became enraged
and began yelling profanity before storming out of the room.
Id. at ¶¶19-22.
to staff accounts, Ms. Blodgett then threatened employees,
cursed at them, and pushed over a cart in the kitchen before
leaving the facility. Id. at ¶¶ 25, 27;
Exs. 4 & 5 to Ex. A, ECF No. 71-1. Ms. Blodgett does not
recall what happened after Ms. Cassells told her that Fox
Hill Center fired her son. Jennifer Blodgett September 14,
2018 Deposition, Ex. D, ECF No. 71-1 (“Blodgett
September 14, 2018 Dep.”), at 72:10-74:14.
that day, Nancy Pagani, Ms. Blodgett's supervisor, called
Ms. Blodgett to inform her of her suspension pending an
investigation. Cassells Aff. at ¶ 28. Ms. Blodgett does
not recall Ms. Pagani telling her about her suspension.
Blodgett September 14, 2018 Dep. at 94:6- 10. Ms. Blodgett
alleges that she only learned about the suspension days
later, when Fox Hill Center sent her a letter. Id.
at 97:17-20; see also December 16, 2015 Suspension
Letter, ECF No. 78-16.
same day, Ms. Blodgett contacted Ms. Cassells to request FMLA
paperwork, which Ms. Cassells provided to her. Cassells at
December 17, 2015, Ms. Blodgett submitted an employee request
for leave of absence, citing continuous disability under the
FMLA. Employee Request for Leave of Absence, ECF No. 78-14.
December 18, 2015, Ms. Blodgett submitted a partially
completed FMLA application, and then supplemented the
application days later with a medical certification from Dr.
Serge Poulin. Affidavit of Stephanie Willis, ECF No. 71-1
(“Willis Aff.”), at ¶ 4; Ex. 1 to Ex. B, ECF
No. 71-1, at 4. Ms. Blodgett submitted her FMLA application
to “Fox Hill's out-of-state corporate leave
management division, ” but allegedly “[n]o one
from Fox Hill reviewed plaintiff's application for FMLA
leave, or rendered any decision to her application.”
Cassells Aff. at ¶ 30.
to the Fox Hills Center Leave Analyst, “Plaintiff's
application was reviewed by a Leave Specialist in conjunction
with a Nurse Consultant” and “the Nurse
Consultant determined that the medical certification
Plaintiff submitted was insufficient, as it failed to certify
a serious health condition sufficient to warrant FMLA
leave.” Willis Aff. at ¶¶ 6-7. Because of the
failure to submit a proper medical certification, the Leave
Analyst denied Ms. Blodgett's FMLA leave application.
Id. at ¶ 8.
days later, a Leave Specialist retroactively granted Ms.
Blodgett's personal leave of absence from December 17,
2015 to January 9, 2016. Id. at ¶ 9; Ex. P12,
ECF No. 78-15.
January 8, 2016, Dr. Poulin cleared Ms. Blodgett to return to
work. Willis Aff. at ¶ 10.
to Ms. Blodgett, she spoke with Nancy Pagani two to three
weeks before her termination about feeling depressed because
of deaths at the facility, but never communicated a medical
diagnosis of depression. Blodgett September 14, 2018 Dep. at
January 11, 2016, Ray Talomona, Pam Liggins, Nancy Pagani,
and Gaye Cassells met with Ms. Blodgett to complete the
investigation into her behavior on December 16, 2015.
Cassells Aff. at ¶¶ 32, 33.
that meeting, Ms. Liggins, Ms. Pagani, and Ms. Cassells
“decided to terminate Plaintiff's employment due to
her unprofessional conduct, and messaged that to Plaintiff,
effective immediately.” Id. at 34.
7, 2016, Ms. Blodgett applied for Social Security disability
insurance benefits, and reported a disabling depression,
anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Id. She
also said that she was disabled since December 16, 2015. Ex.
C, ECF No. 71-1; Blodgett September 14, 2018 Dep. at
28, 2018, the Social Security Administration rendered a fully
favorable decision on Ms. Blodgett's disability, noting
that Ms. Blodgett “has been under a disability as
defined in the Social Security Act since December 16, 2015,
the alleged onset date of disability.” Notice of
Decision, ECF No. 71-1.
the Social Security Administration declared Ms. Blodgett
disabled, Ms. Blodgett believed that she could return to work
a full shift on January 15, 2016. February 11, 2019
Deposition of Jennifer Blodgett, ECF No. 71-1, at 19:3-6. Ms.
Blodgett also allegedly never requested any hours or duty
accommodations from anyone at Fox Hill Center. Id.
9, 2017, Ms. Blodgett filed her Complaint against 22 South
Street Operations. Complaint, ECF No. 1.
12, 2017, 22 South Street Operations responded to the
Complaint with an Answer and affirmative defenses. Answer to
Complaint with Affirmative Defenses, ECF No. 13.
October 5, 2018, the Court held a post-discovery telephonic
status conference. Minute Entry, ECF No. 52.
March 29, 2019, 22 South Street Operations moved for summary
judgment in this case. Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No.
20, 2019, Ms. Blodgett objected to 22 South Street
Operation's motion for summary judgment. Objection re
Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 78.
28, 2019, the Court held a hearing on 22 South Street
Operation's motion for summary judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
for summary judgment are granted when the record shows no
genuine issue as to any material fact, and the movant is
“entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of showing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
The non-moving party may defeat the motion by producing
specific facts to prove that there is a genuine issue of
material fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Id. at 247-48 (emphasis in original).
The moving party, however, may satisfy this burden by
pointing to an absence of evidence to support the ...