United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
TIMOTHY W. SHACKLEFORD, Plaintiff,
D&W FINE PACK, LLC, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Plaintiff, Timothy W. Shackleford, has asserted two claims
against his former employer, D&W Fine Pack, LLC. He
alleges that the Defendant terminated his employment in
retaliation for exercising his right to worker's
compensation benefits after he sustained a work-related
injury. He also claims that his termination was a violation
of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA or the Act). The
Plaintiff has moved for summary judgment on the FMLA claim
[Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J., ECF No. 19], and the
Defendant has moved for summary judgment on both claims
[Def.'s Dispositive Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 22]. Also
pending are the Defendant's Motion to Strike [ECF No.
27], and the Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File
Declaration of Dr. David Conner [ECF No. 33].
reasons stated in this Opinion, the Court finds that the
Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the
FMLA claim. The Court will relinquish jurisdiction of the
state law claim and remand the case to state court. It is not
necessary to rule on the Motion to Strike or the Motion for
Leave to File, as the evidence that is the subject of those
requests is not material to the Court's decision.
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is the moment in
litigation where the non-moving party is required to marshal
and present the court with evidence on which a reasonable
jury could rely to find in his favor. Goodman v.
Nat'l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir.
2010). The court's role in deciding a motion for summary
judgment “is not to sift through the evidence,
pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to
believe. The court has one task and one task only: to decide,
based on the evidence of record, whether there is any
material dispute of fact that requires a trial.”
Waldridge v. Am. Heochst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920
(7th Cir. 1994). A district court should deny a motion for
summary judgment only when the non-moving party presents
admissible evidence that creates a genuine issue of material
fact. Luster v. Ill. Dep't of Corrs., 652 F.3d
726, 731 (7th Cir. 2011) (first citing United States v.
5443 Suffield Terrace, 607 F.3d 504, 510 (7th Cir.
2010); then citing Swearnigen-El v. Cook Cnty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 602 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir.
material facts of this case-those that are outcome
determinative under the applicable law, Smith v.
Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997)-are not in
dispute. Because the Court is only concerned with material
facts, the Statement of Facts set forth below does not
include all of the facts that were submitted by the Plaintiff
in his Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. See Harney
v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th
Cir. 2008) (noting that “[i]rrelevant or unnecessary
facts do not deter summary judgment, even when in
dispute”). Moreover, the Court only included those
facts that were supported by the materials in the record.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). Any reasonable
inferences accompanying those facts are discussed in the
Analysis section of the Opinion.
Plaintiff began working for the Defendant on November 7,
2013, in the position known as an Extrusion Operator. On
February 22, 2014, he injured his shoulder while performing
his Extrusion Operator duties. The Plaintiff notified
Sylvester Thomas, the Defendant's Human Resources
Generalist. Thomas completed the necessary forms to be filed
with the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board. A claims
adjuster at Zurich North America, the Defendant's
worker's compensation insurance company, was assigned to
handle the Plaintiff's case.
Plaintiff was referred to Dr. Greg Sassmannshausen at Fort
Wayne Orthopedics for treatment. The Plaintiff began physical
therapy three days a week, and was also placed on light duty
work restrictions. The Defendant moved the Plaintiff to a
position in a different area of the facility that would
accommodate his restrictions.
19, 2014, Dr. Sassmannshausen performed surgery on the
Plaintiff's shoulder. Afterwards, the Plaintiff was
returned to his light duty assignment. However, the Plaintiff
subsequently re-injured his shoulder when he lifted some
boxes that weighed more than his lifting restriction.
September 4, 2014, the Plaintiff began taking part in the
Defendant's new transitional return to work (RTW)
program. Through the program, the Plaintiff was assigned work
off-site that he could perform within his
restrictions. The 90-day program was set to expire on
December 4, 2014.
end of October, Dr. Sassmannshausen opined that the Plaintiff
had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Thomas
notified management, as well as Zurich, attempting to
determine the next steps for the Plaintiff. On November 17,
2014, Thomas realized that the Plaintiff's RTW assignment
would be ending soon, and asked Dr. Sassmannshausen to
complete a questionnaire about the Plaintiff's return to
work status. Dr. Sassmanshausen's opinion was that the
Plaintiff had permanent restrictions that would not allow him
to perform the duties of an Extrusion Operator.
Plaintiff sought a second medical opinion because he was
still having a lot of issues with his shoulder. On November
24, 2014, Dr. David Conner evaluated the Plaintiff and
prepared a report. He noted that the Plaintiff's
continuing pain and dysfunction in his shoulder was not
improving. According to an MRI that Dr. Conner had ordered,
the Plaintiff showed some residual rotator cuff tearing and
some irritation of the biceps tendon. The Plaintiff desired
to undergo surgical intervention, the goal of which was to
address the biceps tendon pain and the rotator cuff tendon
tearing, and to get the Plaintiff back to full regular
duties. Meanwhile, the Plaintiff would stay on his permanent
work restrictions. That same day, or shortly thereafter, the
Plaintiff gave Dr. Conner's report to Thomas, and stated
that he could get his restrictions lifted if he underwent the
surgery recommended by Dr. Conner. Thomas advised the
Plaintiff to follow up with Zurich about Dr. Conner's
December 15, 2014, the Plaintiff met with Thomas. During the
meeting, the Plaintiff inquired if the Defendant had decided
whether to extend his transitional off-site work, whether the
Defendant had made any decisions about Dr. Conner's
recommended surgery, and also inquired if he could take FMLA
leave. Thomas relayed that he had not heard from the
Defendant about extending the RTW period or the
surgery. Thomas asked the Plaintiff if he had
received a ...