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Mancini v. Accredo Health Group, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 4, 2019

AMANDA MANCINI, Plaintiff,
v.
ACCREDO HEALTH GROUP, INC., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         The Plaintiff, Amanda Mancini, filed this action challenging a decision by Accredo Health Group to terminate her employment as an infusion nurse. In her complaint, Mancini alleges retaliation in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and disability discrimination in violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. (ECF No. 1.) Accredo has moved for summary judgment on all counts. (ECF No. 24.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to the ADA claim and the CFEPA claim, and DENIED as to the FMLA claim.

         II. Factual Background

         The following facts, which are taken from the parties' Local Rule 56(a) Statements and the exhibits, are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

         A. Mancini's Position with Accredo

         Plaintiff Amanda Mancini began working for Defendant Accredo Health Group on or about November 24, 2014 as an Infusion Nurse. (ECF No. 25-l[1] ("Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt.") at ¶ 9; ECF No. 27-11 ("Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt.") at ¶ 9.) Mancini's primary function as an Infusion Nurse was to provide in-home intravenous ("IV") infusion medical treatment and to assist patients with administering their medications. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 12; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 12.)

         Generally, during a home visit, Mancini would first ensure that a patient's IV line was correctly in place and connected to a hep-lock. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 14; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 14.) A "hep-lock," also known as a "saline lock," is an "intravenous portal, usually placed and left in a vein in one of the patient's arms, and used episodically for fluid or medication infusions." Saline Lock, Medical Dictionary, http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/saline隇 (last visited Aug. 29, 2019). If a patient already had a hep-lock in place, Mancini would ensure that the patient's hep-lock was adequately functioning by flushing it with saline solution. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 14; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 14.) If a patient did not already have a hep-lock in place, Mancini would be responsible for inserting one. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt. at ¶ 15; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 15.) In order to insert a hep-lock, Mancini would attempt to locate a vein, insert a peripheral intravenous catheter with a needle, and then remove the needle so as to leave only the catheter in the patient's vein. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 16; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 16.) If unable to properly insert the hep-lock into a vein, Mancini would attempt to do so again by fully removing the needle from the vein and inserting it in a different location. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 17-18; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 17-18.) Under Accredo's policy, Mancini was allowed to make three attempts at inserting the hep-lock before having to call a separate infusion nurse for additional assistance. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 19; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 19.) Once an IV line was secured and a patient's vitals were reading normally, Mancini would then open and mix the patient's medication. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 20; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 20.) After administering the patient's medication, Mancini was responsible for disposing of all garbage, including gauze, alcohol swabs, and wrappers, into the patient's waste can, and disposing of all needles into a "sharps" container. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 21; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 21.)

         B. Mancini's Request for FMLA Leave

         On March 22, 2016, Mancini requested intermittent leave under the FMLA through AON Hewitt, a third-party vendor that handled FMLA leave requests for Accredo. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 30-31; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 30-31.) Mancini suffers from adrenal insufficiency, leukocytosis, and thrombocytosis, for which she has been hospitalized several times. (ECF No. 27-2 ("Pl's Aff") at ¶ 82.) AON approved Mancini for intermittent leave for a maximum often times per month, with each absence allowed up to a full day. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 32; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 32.) On the same day, Mancini requested and AON approved FMLA leave for April 8, 2016. (ECF No. 24-3 at 13; Pl's Aff. at ¶ 42.)

         According to Accredo, Mancini was pre-approved for intermittent leave, and the only further requirement was that she report her FMLA absences to AON Hewitt no later than 11:59 pm on the day of the absence. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 33; ECF No. 24-1 at 3, 18.) According to Mancini, however, on the evening of March 22, 2016-the same day she was approved for intermittent leave-Mancini received a phone call from her supervisor, Lois Klansek, who confronted her about scheduling a day of intermittent leave for April 8, 2016 for a doctor's appointment. (Pl's Aff. at ¶¶ 48-49.) Klansek told Mancini that before she scheduled any days off, she had to first report to Klansek and obtain her clearance, because another nurse had been given April 8 off, and Klansek had "no nurses to cover Southeastern Connecticut." (Id. at ¶¶ 48-49.) Mancini also claims Klansek told her that going to AON for FMLA approval without going to her first was not "being a team player" because once AON approved a request for leave, Klansek could not deny it. (Id. at ¶ 49.)

         C. Mancini's April 6 Appointments

         On April 6, 2016, Mancini was scheduled to visit three patients. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 36; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 36.) When Mancini arrived at the first patient's home, she was feeling "feverish, flushed, and weak, and was profusely sweating." (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 40; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 40.) The patient already had a hep-lock inserted, but when Mancini flushed it with saline solution to ensure it was adequately working, she "received resistance from the saline solution on three separate flushes," so she determined she had to reinsert the hep-lock in another location. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 43; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 43.) She "spent about an hour and a half flushing the saline solution despite it normally taking fifteen minutes." (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 44; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 44.)

         Mancini made at least three attempts at "sticking the patient's vein," but was unsuccessful. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶¶ 46, 48; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶¶ 46, 48.) The patient's family reported that Mancini made at least five attempts (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 49), but Mancini claims to have only made three attempts (Pl's Aff at ¶ 50). In either case, Mancini eventually telephoned another nurse, Karen Chasse, to request assistance. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 53; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 53.)

         According to Chasse, when she arrived, "the house was in disarray with IV supplies scattered across several surfaces," and the family of the patient told her "that Mancini had previously fallen into the refrigerator." (ECF No. 24-5 at ¶ 8.) Accredo also claims that the patient's family told Chasse that Mancini "looked scary" with "Parkinson like movements" and that Mancini "left a bloody gauze on the couch" as well as used needles on the floor and coffee table. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 59.) Mancini denies these allegations and claims she kept the supplies organized, although she admits that there "might have been one piece of gauze on the floor." (Pl's Aff at ¶ 53.) After Chasse arrived, Mancini went into the bathroom, while Chasse started the patient's IV without difficulty. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 60-61; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 60-61.)

         At this point, Chasse phoned Mancini's supervisor, Klansek, to express concern for Mancini's well-being and current state. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 62; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 62.) Klansek, in turn, phoned Mancini to express concern and ask how she was feeling. (Def's L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 63; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 63.) What more was said during that conversation is hotly disputed by the parties. Mancini claims that she made a medical leave request and that Klansek denied it because she had no one else to cover the patients. (Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 118; Pl's Aff. at ¶ 46.) According to Mancini, one of her April 6 patients was "the patient of a certain doctor who provided a lot of business to [Accredo], and it was known that it was very important to keep patients for that particular doctor happy." (Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 120.) Accredo claims no FMLA request was made. (ECF No. 30 at 3-4.)

         Mancini then drove to her next patient-her third scheduled appointment. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 68; ECF No. 24-3 at 47.) Her second scheduled appointment had cancelled because Mancini was by now running too late for the patient's schedule. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 69; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 69.) Mancini's appointment with this patient-her second of the day-did not go well. The patient asked Mancini to leave "within minutes of [her] entering" the patient's home because she thought Mancini was "under the influence." (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 76; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 76.) The patient later reported that Mancini '"[l]ooked like she was on crack,' was disheveled with slurred speech and fell into a wall." (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 75; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 75.) Mancini claims she was not disheveled, did not slur her speech, and did not fall into a wall. (Pl's Aff at ¶ 54.) But she does not dispute the fact that the patient reported these things.

         Mancini offered to "urinate in a cup" to prove she was not intoxicated, apparently at the suggestion of the patient, who had formerly worked at a half-way house. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 77; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 77; ECF No. 24-3 at 52.) She spent some time in the bathroom to this end, but had difficulty urinating and failed to provide a sample. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 79; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 79.) After Mancini came out of the bathroom, the patient and her husband offered to drive Mancini thirty-five to forty minutes to Mancini's home. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 81; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 81.) They were concerned that Mancini was not in a condition to drive herself. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 82; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 82.) Despite the offer, Mancini decided to drive herself home. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 82; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 82.)

         D. Mancini's Arrest and Hospitalization

         The patient and her husband were so concerned about Mancini's ability to drive that they decided to call 911, and, shortly thereafter, Mancini was pulled over. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 84-85; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 84; Pl's Aff. at ¶ 86.) According to the police report, Mancini "appeared 'visibly upset, crying and speaking nonsensically," "displayed 'incoherent speech, '" and failed a field sobriety test. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)(1) Stmt, at ¶ 86, 91; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 86, 91; ECF No. 25-2 at 4-5.) Mancini argues that she "did well on the field sobriety test" and "did not almost fall over," but does not contest that the police officers concluded that she failed, nor does she contest Accredo's characterization of the police report. (Pl's Aff. at ¶ 87; Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt, at ¶ 91.) Mancini was placed under arrest for driving under ...


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