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Coyne v. Omnicare, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 3, 2014

THOMAS COYNE,
v.
OMNICARE, INC., et al..

MEMORANDUM

CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Thomas Coyne, proceeding pro se, filed this action alleging interference with his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., and Maryland's Flexible Leave Act of 2008 ("MFLA"), Md. Code, Lab. & Empl. § 3-802, by his former employer, Omnicare, Inc.; direct supervisor, Edward O'Connell; and human resources manager, Beth Meseroll (collectively, "the defendants"). Specifically, Coyne asserts the defendants interfered with his rights when they terminated his employment after he had filed a request for FMLA leave. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment claiming Coyne voluntarily waived such rights by signing an agreement and general release of claims against Omnicare and its employees in exchange for severance payments.[1] For the reasons stated below, the defendants' motion will be granted.[2]

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of Coyne's employment with and subsequent termination from Omnicare. On September 9, 1998, Coyne began working at NeighborCare, Inc., which was acquired by Omnicare on July 28, 2005. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12, ECF No. 1.) Coyne continued working for Omnicare in both customer service and information technology positions. (Compl. ¶ 13.) On June 30, 2013, Omnicare sold its NeighborCare Med-B group to another company and began laying off employees associated with that group, including Coyne.[3] (Compl. ¶¶ 14-15.) Around this time, Meseroll and O'Connell began communicating with Coyne about his impending termination from Omnicare's employment.[4] (Compl. ¶¶ 19-22.)

On September 17, 2013, Coyne applied for FMLA leave with The Hartford, Omnicare's third party leave administrator, so that he could take care of his father, who was suffering from a continuing and degenerative health condition. (Compl. ¶ 17.) On October 5, 2013, Coyne notified O'Connell of his intent to go on leave starting October 16, 2013. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Because Coyne's leave request was still pending on October 15, 2013, Coyne placed on hold his FMLA start date. (Compl. ¶ 26.) After The Hartford approved Coyne's FMLA leave on October 25, 2013, Coyne informed O'Connell of his intent to begin leave on October 31, 2013. (Compl. ¶¶ 29-30.) On October 30, 2013, Meseroll and O'Connell conducted a telephone conference with Coyne terminating his employment with Omnicare. (Compl. ¶¶ 30-31.)

Prior to Coyne's termination, Omnicare presented Coyne with an Agreement and General Release ("Agreement"). (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss or for Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mot."), Ex. 2, ECF No. 7.) The Agreement included a provision entitled "General Release of All Claims, " which stated, in relevant part:

Employee knowingly and voluntarily releases and forever discharges Omnicare, Inc., its parent corporation, affiliates, subsidiaries, divisions, predecessors insurers, successors and assigns, and their current and former employees, attorneys, officers, directors and agents thereof, both individually and in their business capacities... of and from any and all claims, known and unknown, asserted or unasserted, which the Employee has or may have against Releasees as of the date of execution of this Agreement, including, but not limited to, any alleged violation of:
•....
• The Family and Medical Leave Act;
•....
• Any other federal, state or local law, rule, regulation, or ordinance[.]

( Id. ) A separate provision entitled, "Acknowledgments and Affirmations, " stated that "Employee affirms that Employee has been granted any leave to which Employee was entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act or related state or local leave or disability accommodation laws." ( Id. ) Finally, the Agreement provided that Coyne would receive fifteen weeks of severance pay totaling $17, 891.02 "in consideration for signing th[e] Agreement and complying with its terms." ( Id. )

On November 11, 2013, after his employment with Omnicare had ended, Coyne executed the Agreement. ( Id. ) Following execution, Coyne received fifteen weeks of severance pay from Omnicare. (Defs.' Mot., Ex. ...


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