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Valtierra v. Medtronic Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 3, 2017

Jose Valtierra, Plaintiff,
Medtronic Inc., Defendant.


          Stephen M. McNamee Senior United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Medtronic Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff Jose Valtierra's (“Valtierra”) remaining claims: his claim of interference with his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and his claims of disability discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (Doc. 53.) The motion is fully briefed. (Docs. 54, 57-59, 62, 66-67.)

         The Court will grant Medtronic's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Medtronic is a company that specializes in medical devices for cardiac, neurological, spinal, diabetes and vascular conditions. (Doc. 54 at 2.) The company's Tempe, Arizona location develops and manufactures full custom integrated circuits. (Id.) Its Facilities Organization division employs and manages technicians who maintain and repair facility equipment. (Id.) Technicians work on air conditioners, boilers, fan coils, cooling towers, and other pieces of equipment. (Id.) The physical job requirements include climbing ladders, walking, bending, stooping, kneeling, and carrying up to 50 pounds. (Id.)

         Medtronic hired Valtierra at its Tempe location in November 2004 as a Facilities Maintenance Technician. (Id. at 1.) During his employment, Valtierra worked his way up to Facilities Specialist. (Doc. 62 at 1.) Throughout his employment, Valtierra was supervised by Wayne Duke, the Facilities Maintenance Supervisor. (Docs. 54 at 1, 62 at 2.) Valtierra testified that he weighed at least 300 pounds when Medtronic hired him in 2004. (Doc. 54 at 4.)

         Preventative Maintenance (“PMs”) are regularly set inspections, scheduled maintenance, and repair performed by technicians on every piece of equipment at Medtronic. (Docs. 54 at 2, 62 at 2.) Medtronic's PMs are generated from product specifications and maintenance practices for the products, while its software system, Mainsaver, establishes the work that needs to be completed. (Doc. 54 at 2.) Technicians are responsible for performing the required maintenance and making appropriate entries of completed PMs in Mainsaver. (Id. at 3.) When a PM task is completed, it is closed out in Mainsaver. (Doc. 62 at 3.) In Mainsaver, the maintenance activity to be documented includes: date performed, tasks performed, and name of the person who performed the task. (Doc. 54 at 3.)

         Technicians generally are assigned the same PMs so that they can become familiar with the equipment. (Doc. 62 at 3.) The technicians are assigned PMs by their supervisor, Wayne Duke. (Id. at 2.) Duke has the authority to delegate or change PM assignments between technicians. (Id.) Former employee Rick Majors trained most of the Facilities Maintenance technicians, including Valtierra. (Id. at 3.) He was described as the go-to maintenance person by Supervisor Duke and several technicians. (Id.)

         In August 2013 to December 2013, Valtierra requested and was granted FMLA leave because of his weight, which he stated was causing him joint and knee pain. (Doc. 54 at 3-4.) Matrix, a third party, processes FMLA leave requests for Medtronic employees. (Id. at 3.) Matrix reviews the forms and information completed by the employee, contacts the employee's healthcare providers, and tracks employee FMLA hours. (Id.) Matrix approves or disapproves any FMLA leave for Medtronic employees. (Id.)

         After taking FMLA leave, Valtierra returned to work with Medtronic in December 2013. (Id. at 4.) He was placed in the same position that he had before his FMLA leave, at the same pay rate, and on the same shift. (Id.)

         On June 11, 2014, just before Valtierra was scheduled to go on a week-long vacation, he signed off as completing 12 PMs in Mainsaver. (Docs. 54 at 6, 62 at 8; Doc. 58-4 at 33-44.) Supervisor Duke noticed Valtierra's notification of completed PMs. This raised a red flag for Supervisor Duke, as PMs take a significant amount of time to complete. Valtierra would have had to complete all 12 PMs in the last few hours of his last day prior to vacation. (Doc. 54 at 6.)

         Supervisor Duke contacted Bob Enderle from Medtronic's human resources group regarding his concerns. Mr. Enderle asked Supervisor Duke to inspect the equipment in the areas that Valtierra said were serviced and suggested he take photos for verification purposes. (Id. at 7.) After investigation, it was concluded that Valtierra had not performed the maintenance that he claimed to have done. (Id.)

         On June 23, 2014, when Valtierra returned from vacation, Supervisor Duke met with him to discuss the 12 PMs. (Id.) Valtierra admitted that he signed off on the 12 PMs as being completed even though he never performed the work. (Id.) Valtierra was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. (Id.)

         On July 2, 2014, Medtronic discharged Valtierra for falsification of company records, specifically that he admitted to signing off as having completed 12 PMs when, in fact, he had not completed the work. (Doc. 54 at 1.)

         Valtierra alleges that he is morbidly obese, that his morbid obesity is a disability, and that his discharge was in violation of the ADA. Further, he alleges that Medtronic retaliated against him for requesting a reasonable accommodation for his disability, and that Medtronic interfered with his ability to take leave under the FMLA.

         Medtronic moves for summary judgment on all claims.

         II. ...

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