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Todd v. Prince George's County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 6, 2015

JOANEY TODD, Plaintiff,
v.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MD, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ROGER W. TITUS, District Judge.

On May 2, 2013, Plaintiff Joaney Todd filed suit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland alleging discriminatory and retaliatory conduct by Prince George's County, Maryland ("the County") in violation of several state and federal statutes over the course of two years, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. ECF No. 2. On June 19, 2013, the County removed the action to this Court. ECF No. 1. Both parties now move for summary judgment as to all remaining claims, ECF Nos. 36, 38, and the County moves to strike numerous exhibits in Todd's filings and for sanctions, ECF No. 39.

BACKGROUND

Todd was employed with the County from November 1980 to June 2012. ECF No. 2. Her last position was in the County's Community Planning and Development Division, Community Development and Services Delivery, as Project Manager/Planning/Community Developer II. Id. ¶¶ 9, 45. On March 11, 2010, Todd sustained a foot, knee, and hip injury from a fall at work, which she claims is the basis of her disability. Id. The injury required physical therapy, pain medication, and corrective surgery during March 2013. Id. Todd claims that she still experiences pain and discomfort when walking. Id.

From March 11 through July 14, 2010, Todd was on disability leave due to her injury. ECF No. 36-2, at 33. On April 30, 2010, Todd applied for an open position-the Community Services Manager-which Todd claims the County denied in retaliation for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") complaint in August 2010. Id. at 9. Her application was initially listed as one of the highest qualifying, but dropped during the interview period. Id. at 10. In the end, the County chose a better qualified applicant with a higher overall score than Todd, and who the County maintains had superior knowledge and experience performing the job duties that the position entailed. Id. at 10-11.

On June 16, 2010, the County notified Todd that she was on leave without pay status, and that additional paid leave would not be approved until she submitted documentation from her physician detailing restrictions on her job duties.[1] Id. at 6. The County then received conflicting doctors' reports regarding Todd's ability to return to work with or without an accommodation. Todd's treating physician approved her to return to work with an accommodation request on July 1, 2010, stating that she moved with "maximum difficulty using crutches" and should be limited to sedentary duties. ECF No. 2, ¶ 27. On the other hand, Dr. Robert Smith, an orthopedic surgeon, cleared Todd to return to work on July 8, 2010 with no restrictions, stating Todd evidenced neither fractures nor dislocations and could perform at full duty with no accommodations. ECF No. 36, at Ex. 1.1(k). Ultimately, Todd did not submit the required documentation by the June 25, 2010 deadline.[2] Id. at 6.

On July 14, 2010, Todd returned to work and claims that she was not provided the accommodation requested and was assigned to tasks which required physical duties that caused her pain. ECF No. 2, ¶ 27. In August 2010, Todd filed a charge of discrimination based on her disability under the ADA with the EEOC, and as a result asserts the County increased her case load for the next two months from approximately twelve to twenty-eight cases. ECF No. 36-2, at 13. The County maintains these increases were consistent with an overall increase in everyone's workload due to the new fiscal year and Todd being detailed to the Acting Community Developer III Position. Id. at 13-14. Todd amended her EEOC complaint in January 2011 to include a charge of retaliation-that the County reassigned her duties to other employees and denied her a promotion because of her disability and/or in retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint. ECF No. 2, ¶¶ 40-44.

On August 10, 2010, pursuant to her union member rights and collective bargaining agreement, Todd filed a grievance involving the denial of leave, benefits, and acting pay. ECF No. 36, Ex. 1.12. Ultimately, Todd received leave donations, disability leave for March 12 and 19 through June 30, 2010; administrative leave from July 1 through July 13, 2010; retroactive acting pay in the amount of $435.25; 9.25 hours of personal leave; 1, 725 hours of compensatory leave; 31.25 hours of annual leave; and 63 hours of sick leave. Id. Todd voluntarily retired from County service on June 30, 2012. ECF No. 36-2, at 18-19. Neither party disputes that Todd's retirement was "a normal retirement and not a disability-based retirement, " and that Todd received all of her retirement benefits. Id.

On March 26, 2014, this Court granted partial summary judgment against Todd, dismissing her claims under both state law, the Local Government Tort Claims Act, and for failing to exhaust her administrative remedies regarding the discrimination/failure to accommodate claims relating to her diabetes. ECF No. 18. As to the remaining claims, the County moved for summary judgment on October 29, 2014, ECF No. 36, and Todd filed her opposition and crossclaim for summary judgment on November 18, 2014, ECF No. 38. On December 2, 2014, the County filed a related motion to strike numerous documents submitted by Todd and for sanctions. ECF No. 39.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must assess whether there are any issues of material fact and whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Francis v. Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc., 452 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir. 2006). A dispute of material fact is "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). "A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).

When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, "if the evidence is merely colorable or not significantly probative, it may not be adequate to oppose entry of summary judgment." Thompson Everett, Inc., v. Nat'l Cable Adv., 57 F.3d 1312, 1323 (4th Cir. 1995).

DISCUSSION

The remaining claims in this matter and at issue in the parties' current motions for summary judgment, include whether there was a wrongful withholding of donated sick leave pay and acting pay wages while on medical leave following Todd's injury, retaliation in the form of an increased case load after returning to work following that leave, ...


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