United States District Court, D. Arizona
Nannette G. Hummel, Plaintiff,
Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, Defendant.
Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge
issue is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
48, Mot.), to which Plaintiff has filed a Response (Doc. 53,
Resp.) and Defendant replied (Doc. 57, Reply). Plaintiff
Nannette G. Hummel (“Plaintiff”) alleges that
Defendant Maricopa County Adult Probation Department
(“Defendant” or “APD”) violated the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., by terminating
Plaintiff's employment instead of granting her request to
either extend her medical leave or assign her to light duty.
Based on the following, the Court grants Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
began working at APD as an adult probation officer on January
18, 2005. (Doc. 49, Statement of Facts in Supp. of MSJ
(“DSOF”) ¶ 1; Doc. 56, Pl.'s
Controverting Statement of Facts in Supp. of Resp.
(“CSOF”) ¶ 1.) On October 16, 2012,
Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment. (¶ 7.)
Plaintiff appealed her termination and was reinstated on June
10, 2013. (¶ 10.) Soon thereafter, Plaintiff requested
to be transferred from the Mesa office to the Northpoint
office. (¶ 20.) APD granted the request on June 13, and
Plaintiff began work there on June 18. (¶¶ 21-22.)
days later, Plaintiff began what was initially set to be a
two-day leave of absence. (¶ 25.) After Plaintiff began
her leave on June 20, however, she requested medical leave
and remained off work until January 2014. (¶¶
submitted two additional leave requests on July 31, 2013.
First, Plaintiff requested FMLA leave from July 22 to August
31 to care for her adult daughter following facial surgery.
(¶ 31.) APD denied the request citing insufficient
documentation that Plaintiff's daughter was disabled and
unable to care for herself; however, APD did authorize
Plaintiff to use accrued sick leave. (¶ 32.) Second,
Plaintiff requested FMLA leave from August 15 to November 15
to undergo and recover from partial knee replacement surgery.
(¶ 33.) APD approved the request on August 8. Because
Plaintiff had already accrued the full 480 hours permitted
under the FMLA, APD approved leave from August 15 to November
7. (¶ 34.) Plaintiff's surgery took place on August
16. (¶ 35.)
approved leave neared its end, Plaintiff requested additional
time. On November 4, 2013, Plaintiff sent an email to APD
Human Resources Analyst Mikisha Steel stating that her doctor
had extended her leave until January 6, 2014. (¶ 40.)
Even though APD understood this as a request for leave beyond
Plaintiff's available FMLA hours, Chief Probation Officer
Barbara Broderick granted the request. (¶ 41.) Broderick
further advised Plaintiff that any absence beyond January 6
would be unauthorized and that to return to work, Plaintiff
would need to provide medical documentation clearing her to
perform the essential functions of her job. (¶ 42.)
returned to the office on January 6, 2014. (¶ 43.) At
that time, she submitted a doctor's note dated October
31, 2013, which stated that Plaintiff would return to regular
duty on January 6. (¶ 44; Doc. 49-1, Ex. P.) Steel
informed Plaintiff that the note was insufficient and
provided an essential functions form for her doctor to
complete before she could return to work. (¶ 45.)
Because Plaintiff could not see her doctor until January 27,
Broderick approved an additional three weeks of leave.
(¶ 46.) Broderick again advised Plaintiff that any
absence beyond January 27 would be unauthorized and that she
would need to provide a completed essential functions form.
(¶ 47.) Following her January 27 doctor appointment,
Plaintiff forwarded a letter to Broderick requesting
additional leave until February 13 and included a completed
copy of the required form. (¶¶ 48-49.) Plaintiff
concedes that she was not fit to return to regular duty as of
January 27. (¶ 50.) After reviewing the essential
functions form completed by Plaintiff's doctor, Broderick
denied Plaintiff's request by letter dated January 28.
(¶ 51.) The letter further stated that as of January 28,
Plaintiff's absences from work were unauthorized and that
if she was absent for three or more consecutive days, she
would be “automatically considered to have
resigned.” (¶ 57.) Three days later, APD ended
Plaintiff's employment. (¶ 60.)
March 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed a claim with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
alleging that Defendant's decision to end her employment
violated the ADA. (Doc. 56, Pl.'s Separate Statement of
Facts (“PSOF”) ¶ 39.) EEOC issued a
cause determination on December 23, 2015, finding
“reasonable cause to believe” Defendant had
“failed to provide [Plaintiff] with a reasonable
accommodation of additional medical leave and terminated her
employment.” (Doc. 7-1, Ex. 2.) After receiving a right to
sue letter, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on December
14, 2016, and she amended her complaint on January 4, 2017.
(See Doc. 1, Compl.; Doc. 7, Am. Compl.) Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant violated the ADA by (1) failing to
provide Plaintiff with a reasonable accommodation by either
extending her leave or allowing her to work light duty until
her doctor released her to full duty and (2) refusing to
engage in the interactive process to find such an
accommodation. (See generally Am. Compl.)
judgment is appropriate when: (1) the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact; and (2) after
viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party,
the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N.
Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987). “Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under governing [substantive] law will properly preclude the
entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine
issue” of material fact arises only “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
regard as true the non-moving party's evidence if it is
supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815
F.2d at 1289. However, the non-moving party may not merely
rest on its pleadings; it must produce some significant
probative evidence tending to contradict the moving
party's allegations, thereby creating a material question
of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57 (holding that
plaintiff must present affirmative evidence to defeat
properly supported motion for summary judgment); First
Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S.
253, 289 (1968).
summary judgment motion cannot be defeated by relying solely
on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data.”
Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989).
“Summary judgment must be entered ‘against a
party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.'” United States v. Carter, 906 F.2d
1375, 1376 (9th Cir. 1990) (quoting Celotex, 477
U.S. at 322).