United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
BENSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Judge Dee Benson Before the court is Plaintiff's Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 19.) The Motion has
been fully briefed by the parties, and the court has
considered the facts and arguments set forth in those
filings. Pursuant to civil rule 7-1(f) of the United States
District Court for the District of Utah Rules of Practice,
the Court elects to determine the motion on the basis of the
written memoranda and finds that oral argument would not be
helpful or necessary. DUCivR 7-1(f).
court, as it must, “examine[s] the factual record and
reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable
to the party opposing summary judgment.” Applied
Genetics Int'l, Inc. v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc.,
912 F.2d 1238, 1241 (10th Cir. 1990).
began his employment with Defendant in November of 2014, as
an Event Supervisor. (Dkt. No. 20 at 10, ¶¶1-2.) On
May 16, 2016, Plaintiff contacted Defendant's third-party
Family Medical Leave Act “FMLA” administrator,
Matrix, to request intermittent FMLA leave for his own
serious health condition. (Dkt. No. 24-7.) After several
attempts to obtain medical certification satisfactory to
Matrix, Matrix approved Plaintiff's request for
intermittent leave on August 11, 2016. (Dkt. No. 24-8-24-11.)
Matrix based its intermittent leave approval on certification
from Plaintiff's pulmonary specialist, Dr. Shah. (Dkt.
No. 24-10.) Matrix granted intermittent leave “from
03/13/2016 to 03/12/2017” and approved Plaintiff's
absences on May 6, 7, 11, and 12. (Dkt. No. 24-11.) The
document memorializing the leave approval also stated:
“Your Leave is certified for 3 Day(s), at a frequency
of 2 events per 12 Month(s).” (Id.)
September 1, 2016, Plaintiff contacted Matrix to receive FMLA
leave approval for his absences from August 25- September 1,
2016. (Dkt. No. 24-12.) The Matrix representative informed
Plaintiff that she would seek certification for his absence
from Dr. Shah. (Id.) On September 7, 2016, Plaintiff
again contacted Matrix and was again informed that the Matrix
representative would seek certification from Dr. Shah.
(Id.) On September 8, 2016, the Matrix
representative requested certification from Dr. Shah and was
informed that Dr. Shah would not provide additional
certification without seeing Plaintiff again. (Id.)
On September 9, 2016, the Matrix representative relayed this
information to Plaintiff. (Id.)
September 10, 2016, Plaintiff returned to work and presented
a doctor's note to Defendant's Human Resource
Manager, Bradley Christensen. (Dkt. No. 22, ¶18.) The
Instacare “Work Release Note” stated:
“EAGLE, ROBERT E was seen at instacare today for a
valid medical reason. Please released [sic] them
[sic] from school/work August 25th, September 9 and
10, 2016 per M.D. order. Patient is released to go back to
work.” (Dkt. No. 24-15.) Based on that note, Mr.
Christensen permitted Plaintiff to return to work. (Dkt. No.
22, ¶ 18.) On October 4, 2016, Mr. Christensen reported
the excused hours/ dates from August 25 to September 10 to
Matrix. (Id., ¶19.)
October 11, 2016, Plaintiff visited Dr. Shah for a follow-up
visit and to request an adjustment to his FMLA form. (Dkt.
No. 24-18.) Plaintiff reported to Dr. Shah that his condition
had not improved, that he was experiencing chest pain, cough,
and hemoptysis, and that he feared he would lose his job, as
he had “missed work a lot lately due to these
symptoms.” (Id.) Dr. Shah stated that he would
send his clinic notes to Plaintiff's employer and inform
them that the amount of time Plaintiff would need to be out
would be an estimate, since he did not yet have a clear
October 14, 2016, Plaintiff began another absence from work
that continued through November 3, 2016. (Dkt. No. 24-14.) On
or about October 19, 2016, Plaintiff called Matrix to attempt
to update his FMLA leave parameters. (Id.) Matrix
called Plaintiff back and left him a voicemail instructing
him to have his doctor fax medical documentation to Matrix.
(Dkt. No. 24-19.) On October 25, 2016, Plaintiff again called
the Matrix representative to see if she had received the
updated parameters from Dr. Shah. (Dkt. No. 24-20.) She
informed him that she had not received the documentation.
(Id.) The record does not show any effort made by
Matrix or Defendant to obtain certification directly from Dr.
Shah during this time period.
November 4, 2016, Plaintiff met with his direct supervisor
and Mr. Christensen and informed them that he was prepared to
return to work. (Dkt. No. 22, ¶ 32.) Plaintiff presented
an Instacare “Work Release Note” that appeared
almost identical, apart from the dates listed and small
changes in wording, to the note Plaintiff had presented upon
his return to work in September. (Dkt. No. 24-24.) The note
stated: “EAGLE, ROBERT E was seen at the Memorial
Instacare on 11/03/16 for a valid medical reason. Please
excuse him/her from time missed from work/school 10/14/2016,
11/02/2016, and 11/03/2016 for a valid medical illness. Per
Dr. Willis, EAGLE, ROBERT E is allowed to return to work as
of 11/03/2016.” (Id.) Mr. Christensen
“told Plaintiff that the InstaCare note was
insufficient and that he would be out of work until he
provided a doctor note from his treating physician.”
(Dkt. No. 22, ¶ 32.)
November 7, 2016, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Mr. Christensen
asking why he had not been allowed to return to work. (Dkt.
No. 19, Exh. F.) He also informed Mr. Christensen that he
would have to seek employment elsewhere until his leave
status was resolved and reaffirmed that he was ready and able
to work as of November 4, 2016. (Id.)
November 11, 2016, Plaintiff provided Mr. Christensen with a
note from Dr. Shah which stated:
Robert Eagle has been under my care for hemoptysis and
pulmonary nodules. His evaluation is currently underway but
he continues to have intermittent symptoms. Please excuse him
from work 08/26/2016 to 09/10/2016 and 10/14/2016-11/3/2016.
I expect him to improve over the next few months. Please
contact our office if any additional information is needed.
(Dkt. No. 24-25.) Mr. Christensen did not allow Plaintiff to
return to work at that time, nor did he contact Dr.
Shah's office for additional information. He instead
forwarded the note from ...