United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
William T. Lawrence, Judge
cause is before the Court on the Defendants' motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 48). This motion is fully briefed,
and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS
the motion for the reasons, and to the extent, set forth
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary 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.” In ruling on
a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence
presented by the non-moving party must be believed, and all
reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's
favor. Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d
487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555
F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”).
However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a
particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must
affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations,
that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires
trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490. Finally,
the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically
identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the
court is not required to scour the record in search of
evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir.
facts that follow are taken in the light most favorable to
the Plaintiff, Kevin Byerley.Additional relevant facts are
included in the Discussion section below.
Farms Dairy, Inc. (“Prairie Farms”), an Illinois
corporation with its principal place of business in
Carlinville, Illinois, runs a distribution center in Terre
Haute, Indiana. Beginning in 2003, Byerley worked as a
delivery driver out of the Terre Haute facility. He drove a
truck delivering Prairie Farms' products to its
had a history of problems with his left knee. Dkt. No. 55 at
4 (citing Dkt. No. 50-17 at 4). He had had at least two
surgeries on it prior to 2013. Dkt. No. 50-3 at 7. He also
had two prior knee injuries at work, one in 2005 and another
in 2009. Dkt. No. 55 at 4. Both times, Prairie Farms filed
reports of the injuries with the Indiana Worker's
Compensation Board. Id. (citing Dkt. No. 50-3 at
the week of December 12, 2013, Byerley injured his left knee
again while making a delivery. Dkt. No. 50-3 at 4. He called
Louie Hornacky, branch manager, and “told him that [he]
had slipped and messed up [his] knee, and [he] needed to see
if [he] could get somebody to replace
[him].” Dkt. No. 50-3 at 8. Hornacky told him to
call Chris Franklin, crew leader. Id. Franklin told
him that they did not have a driver to replace him, so
Byerley finished the remaining three deliveries on his route.
Id. Byerley claims that “Prairie Farms
maintained a policy not to permit the filing of workmen's
compensation claims under penalty of the denial of Christmas
bonuses to all employees if such claims were
made.” Compl. ¶ 4.
January 22, 2014, Byerley's orthopedic doctor, Dr. Gary
Ulrich, completed a Certification of Health Care Provider for
Byerley to apply for leave under the Family and Medical Leave
Act. See Dkt. No. 50-4. “Since Byerley
understood that he could not file for workmen's
compensation without causing the employees to lose their
Christmas bonuses, he filed for FMLA, trying to be nice to
the other employees.” Dkt. No. 55 at 3 (citations
omitted). The form indicated that Byerley intended to have a
scope on his left knee on February 17, 2014, and would be
incapacitated from that date through April 14, 2014.
Dkt. No. 50-4 at 3-4. He was granted FMLA leave.
Dkt. No. 50-3 at 8.
continued to work until Friday, January 31, 2014. Dkt. No. 55
at 3 (citation omitted). The following Monday, February 3,
2014, Byerley underwent the scope on his left knee and had
knee replacement surgery on March 10, 2014. Dkt. No. 50-3 at
days following his surgery, Byerley applied for short-term
disability benefits. Dkt. No. 49 at 4 (citing Dkt. No. 50-5
at 3). To be eligible for these benefits, the injury or
illness causing the short-term disability could not be work
related. Id. Both Byerley and his health care
provider completed disability claim forms for his benefits
application. See Dkt. No. 50-5 at 9 & 10. Both
forms asked whether Byerley's claim/disability resulted
from employment. Id. Byerley and his health care
provider responded that it did not. Id.
Byerley's short-term disability benefit was granted. Dkt.
No. 50-5 at 3-4.
exhausted his FMLA leave on April 26, 2014. Dkt. No. 49 at 5
(citing Dkt. No. 50-5 at 3). On May 9, 2014, Byerley applied
for Social Security Disability benefits, claiming he was
totally disabled. Dkt. No. 50-3 at 17. He remained on leave
for over five months after his FMLA was exhausted. On
September 12, 2014, Prairie Farms sent Byerley a letter
indicating that his leave of absence was extended to October
13, 2014, and that his employment would be terminated if he
was unable to return to work on that date. See Dkt.
No. 50-8. Byerley did not return to work on October 13, 2014,
and his employment with Prairie Farms was terminated.
“As of October 13, 2014, Byerley had not been released
from Dr. Ulrich's care and was not allowed to return to
work as of October 13, 2014.” Dkt. No. 55 at 6; see
also Dkt. No. 50-3 at 6. On January 12, 2015, Byerley
filed a Request for Assistance with the Indiana Worker's
Compensation Board and filed this lawsuit on December 3,
maintains that “[his] termination by Prairie Farms was
a violation of Indiana law under the Frampton
decision in that his termination was due [to] his having a
workmen's compensation claim and was calculated to
discourage Byerly [sic] and other employees from filing
workmen's compensation ...