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Adirieje v. Rescare, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 30, 2019

RESCARE, INC., Defendant.


          Tanya Walton Pratt, United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by Defendant Res-Care, Inc. (“ResCare”) (Filing No. 30). Plaintiff Ujunwa Adirieje (“Adirieje”) initiated this action asserting claims of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”), retaliation under the ADA, and a Frampton claim pursuant to Indiana common law. For the following reasons, the Court must grant ResCare’s Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Adirieje as the non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         ResCare is a private agency that provides Medicaid waiver services to persons with intellectual disabilities and is regulated by the Indiana Bureau of Developmental Disabilities (Filing No. 31-1 at 2). The agency provides in-home care for individuals who cannot take care of themselves for various reasons such as being confined to a wheelchair, having bipolar disorder or speech disorders (Filing No. 31-2 at 5).

         Adirieje is a resident of the State of Indiana, County of Marion, and a former employee of ResCare (Filing No. 1 at 1). She was employed by ResCare as a Direct Care Professional beginning on or about September 26, 2016, left the company-to take another job-in November 2016, and was rehired in April 2017. Near the end of January 2017, Adirieje became aware that she was pregnant through a home pregnancy test. She had an ultrasound in February or March of 2017 to confirm her pregnancy. As a Direct Support Professional, Adirieje was required to provide training, emotional support, physical support, and monitoring to individuals with developmental disabilities or other reported disorders. She was assigned to work in a group home that supported eight female clients who had various disabilities. At that time, Adirieje was also a part-time student during the day and worked at ResCare during the night. She worked at the group home from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., seven days on and seven days off. Her direct supervisor was Markita Emery-Keifer (“Markita”).

         When Adirieje was rehired by ResCare in April 2017, she knew that she was pregnant and she informed three ResCare employees of her pregnancy-the woman who conducted the interview, the woman who provided the orientation, and her supervisor Markita. When she rejoined ResCare, she filled out a “personnel action form, ” which included a question about whether she was disabled. She left that section blank and later explained that she left the disability section blank because she “was not disabled” when she applied in April 2017. As her pregnancy progressed, it affected her ability to walk, lift, bend, and stand, and her pregnancy sometimes affected her ability to concentrate or think clearly (Filing No. 31-2 at 6, 10, 22; Filing No. 31-4).

         The eight clients who Adirieje serviced resided in different rooms within the group home. They moved freely about the house and sometimes without warning would have behavior problems or might start fighting with each other. During orientation, Adirieje was informed that working in a group home with eight clients required multiple staff, and she would not be working alone. Markita also told Adirieje that she would not be working alone. However, Adirieje often found herself working alone during the night shift. On several occasions Adirieje informed Markita that she was working alone and needed her to send help, and Markita agreed that she would do so. (Filing No. 31-2 at 6, 19; Filing No. 38-4 at 1).

         On the morning of May 16, 2017, Adirieje was taking a client to the medication room when the client asked to call her boyfriend. Adirieje told the client she could call him but not at that moment. The client became agitated and kneed Adirieje in the stomach, and Adirieje fell to the ground. Adirieje attempted to stand up, and the client tried to jump on her. Adirieje was able to run away and call her supervisor for help. Markita informed Adirieje that she could not come to the residence and asked whether Adirieje could handle it. Adirieje replied, “[i]f I can handle it, I wouldn’t be calling you.” (Filing No. 38-1 at 10.) Markita instructed Adirieje to call the police, which she did, and a police officer came to the home. The officer asked Adirieje if she needed to go to the hospital, and she declined, explaining that she was not injured. Id. at 10–11.

         Later that evening, while on her way to school, Adirieje received a phone call from Markita who asked her to stop by the home. Id. Markita then asked Adirieje if she would like to go to the hospital, and Adirieje again declined, explaining again that she was okay. Adirieje was asked to fill out an incident report form, so she filled out the report and indicated that she did not receive first aid and did not go to an emergency room because she had sustained no physical injuries as a result of the incident (Filing No. 31-2 at 7, 11–12; Filing No. 38-4 at 1–2; Filing No. 31-5).

         On May 17, 2017, Adirieje went to school and began feeling cramps. She called Markita while she was at school and explained that she was having cramps and wanted to go to the hospital. Markita responded, “No. I’ve already filled out the paper, ” so Adirieje replied, “okay.” (Filing No. 31-2 at 12.) Adirieje had never experienced cramps prior to the incident on May 16, but she felt cramps frequently after May 16. The cramps would come and go, and she would take Tylenol when she felt them. However, Adirieje cramps were not so severe that she could not go to work, go to school, or go out. Id. She worked her next scheduled shift the following day and never missed any work as a result of the incident. She later testified in her deposition that the incident did not affect her ability to work in any way. Id. at 12–13.

         On May 29, 2017, Adirieje was washing dishes in the kitchen at the group home when her car alarm went off. She looked out the window and saw a man running away, so she called 911. The police came but could not find anyone. Adirieje called Markita to let her know what happened. She then contacted Jeff Rubin, ResCare’s Indianapolis executive director, through an electronic communication application called “RedeApp.” (Filing No. 31-2 at 13.) Her message stated,

Hi Jeff, good morning, my name is Ujunwa Adirieje. I work at Allisonville with 8 clients by myself overnight. Today an armed robber attacked my car and tried to force the door to the house. I am scared. I need help or I can’t continue with it, it’s just too much for me. Thanks.

(Filing No. 31-6.) Adirieje sent the message to Jeff Rubin asking for help because it was scary being at the home by herself and she was afraid of the robber (Filing No. 31-2 at 13). Jeff Rubin failed to respond to the message, and this was the only time Adirieje ever communicated with him. A few days later Markita informed Adirieje that she had learned the person who had run away was the boyfriend of a client, who came to the group home to bring cigarettes to the client (Filing No. 31-2 at 13–14).

         On June 10, 2017, Adirieje arrived at the group home before 8:00 p.m. to start working her normal shift. When she learned that she would be the only staff working that night, she called Markita, who told Adirieje that she would get somebody to help soon. Adirieje began to feel unbearable cramps while she was working. She went to the bathroom and saw that she was bleeding. She then tried calling numerous other staff members to come relieve her, but they either did not answer their phone or were unable to relieve her (Filing No. 31-2 at 14).

         Just before 3:00 a.m., Adirieje texted Markita: “Hi Markita, please I need help. I have been having contractions and bleeding.” (Filing No. 31-7.) Markita directed Adirieje to call 911. Id. Adirieje responded that “[n]obody will be here . . . I am here by myself.” Id. Markita replied, “Yes they will be coming[.] I have been drinking but I will come if I have to[. I’m] just [s]cared to get pulled over[.]” Id. Adirieje called 911, and an ambulance arrived approximately seven minutes later. She told the ambulance crew that she had clients in the house and asked them to shut the door. Adirieje was taken to the hospital emergency room, and the doctor advised her that she had lost her baby. She was discharged ...

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