United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Bluffton Health
System, LLC, d/b/a Bluffton Regional Medical Center's
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 35). Defendant seeks
judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's claims under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”), the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff Kay
Johnson-Keys filed a brief in opposition to the motion (ECF
46) and Bluffton Health filed a reply (ECF 48). For the
reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion is
GRANTED. The Clerk of the Court is
instructed to enter judgment in favor of Defendant and
DR. KAY JOHNSON-KEYS
is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. In 2006,
Plaintiff entered into a three-year contract with Defendant
to start an OB-GYN practice, Bluffton OB-GYN. This contract
provided Plaintiff with a guaranteed yearly salary of $200,
000 to provide forty hours of clinical, administrative, and
operating room duties per week. In 2009, Plaintiff entered
into a new five-year contract with Defendant that raised her
base salary to $235, 000, provided a retention bonus of $10,
000, and included incentive provisions which provided for the
possibility of additional compensation if Plaintiff had a
certain number of patient encounters.
2010, Plaintiff went on a waiting list for a kidney
transplant due to deteriorating kidney function. Plaintiff
began dialysis treatment in January of 2013, which required
that she undergo several in-home treatments per day.
Defendant accommodated Plaintiff's need for this
treatment by allowing Plaintiff to take an additional hour
break during her workday, although Plaintiff did not always
utilize this accommodation. Plaintiff underwent a kidney
transplant in November 2013, returning to office duties on
February 17, 2014, and to hospital and on call duties on
March 3, 2014. Even though Plaintiff's Family and Medical
Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave expired prior to her
return, Defendant extended her leave until her return to full
BOWERS, PATTERSON AND CLARK
mid-2012, Defendant hired additional staffing for Bluffton
OB-GYN. Gail Clark (a nurse midwife) was hired on June 3,
2012, followed by Dr. Judith Bowers and Susan Patterson (also
a nurse midwife) on August 13, 2012.
relationship between Plaintiff, Bowers, Patterson, and Clark
was not amicable. Indeed, at some point between August 13,
2012, and July 31, 2013, the office space at Bluffton was
physically split to limit the interaction between the
individuals; Plaintiff occupied one half of the office, while
Bowers, Patterson, and Clark occupied the other. Following
the split, Plaintiff was given all the staff necessary to
operate as a solo practicing OB-GYN.
August 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint with
Defendant's human resources department accusing Bowers,
Patterson, and Clark of harassment. Specifically, Plaintiff
alleged that Bowers, Patterson, and Clark “repeatedly
humiliated me at staff meetings and expressed a deep [rage]
against working with me in the office that goes far beyond
what would be expected as a reaction to clinical differences
in patient care.” Plaintiff's Dep. (ECF 36-2), p.
141, ll. 6-10. However, Plaintiff admitted in her deposition
that she has no evidence that the animus between the four
individuals was motivated either by Plaintiff's race
(Plaintiff is black) or Plaintiff's medical condition.
Id., p. 149, ll. 13-20. Following an investigation,
Patricia Sprinkle, Defendant's Vice President of Human
Resources, concluded that the incidents alleged in
Plaintiff's August 9, 2013, complaint were not racially
2012, negotiations began between Plaintiff and Defendant on a
contract to take effect following the expiration of the
contract executed in 2009. Plaintiff's notes reflect that, in
August 2012, she requested a five-year contract with a
guaranteed salary of $250, 000, with all other provisions to
be substantively the same as the 2009 contract. Plaintiff
again extended this request in February of 2013. As
negotiations extended into November and December 2013,
Plaintiff dropped her requested guaranteed salary to $150,
000, plus an additional $100, 000 for midwives, in exchange
for a 32-hour work week.
provided its first written proposal to Plaintiff on February
26, 2014. Defendant offered a three-year contract, with a
base salary of $235, 000 for the first year, a base salary of
$117, 500 for the second year along with a productivity
component, with the third year's compensation based
entirely on productivity. Plaintiff would additionally
receive $12, 000 per year for midwives supervision.
communicated her counter-offer on April 9, 2014. In that
counter-offer, Plaintiff demanded a five-year contract with a
guaranteed salary of $150, 000 each year; $14, 500 per year
to cover satellite offices; $18, 000 per year to supervise
midwives; a bonus based on productivity; and a 32-hour work
week. According to Defendant, it agreed on June 10, 2014, to
the 32-hour work week. Plaintiff denies that she was ever
told this information, and instead claims that she was told
that Defendant's corporate parent did not permit a
32-hour work week.
last verbal offer was made in June of 2014, and again
featured a contract that began with a guaranteed salary and
moved to productivity compensation. This offer was rejected
by Plaintiff. At this time, Defendant decided to walk away
from the negotiations, believing that the parties were too
far apart. Plaintiff made one last offer later in June 2014,
now offering to work for a guaranteed salary of $50, 000 per
year and a 32-hour work week. This offer was rejected, and
Plaintiff was informed on June 27, 2014, that her employment
with Defendant would cease when her contract expired on June
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is warranted when “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). Disputes concerning material facts are
genuine where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In
deciding whether genuine issues of material fact exist, the
court construes all facts in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. See Id. at 255. However,
neither the “mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties, ” id. at 247, nor
the existence of “some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), will
defeat a motion for summary judgment. Michas v. Health
Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir.
judgment is not a substitute for a trial on the merits nor is
it a vehicle for resolving factual disputes. Waldridge v.
Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994).
Therefore, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the
facts in favor of the non-movant, if genuine doubts remain
and a reasonable fact-finder could find for the party
opposing the motion, summary judgment is inappropriate.
See Shields Enterprises, Inc. v. First Chicago
Corp., 975 F.2d 1290, 1294 (7th Cir. 1992); Wolf v.
City of Fitchburg, 870 F.2d 1327, 1330 (7th Cir. 1989).
However, if it is clear that a plaintiff will be unable to
satisfy the legal requirements necessary to establish his or
her case, summary judgment is not only appropriate, but
mandated. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Ziliak
v. AstraZeneca LP, 324 F.3d 518, 520 (7th Cir. 2003).
“[Speculation and conjecture” also cannot defeat
a motion for summary judgment. Cooney v. Casady, 735
F.3d 514, 519 ...