United States District Court, D. Maryland
CATHERINE C. BLAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending is a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff, Ian
Curran Lyons, filed suit against The Johns Hopkins Hospital
(“the Hospital”), alleging that the Hospital
violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”). The Hospital moved for summary judgment
on June 30, 2016. (Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 46). The plaintiff
responded, (Resp. in Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 47),
and the Hospital replied, (Reply, ECF No. 48). No oral
argument is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant
the defendant's motion for summary
uncontested facts are as follows. Mr. Lyons started working
at the Hospital as a clinical social worker starting on July
9, 2012. (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 9, First Lyons Dep. Transcript
9-10, ECF No. 46-9). His supervisors included Paula Heneberry
and Diane Pickett. (Id. 19). Mr. Lyons started as a
part-time employee but had transitioned to full-time
employment by September 2012. (Id. 18). In December
2012, the Hospital referred him to a “fitness for
duty” evaluation in light of his five unplanned
absences from work and a complaint from an outside provider
alleging that he had displayed “grossly unprofessional
behavior.” (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 11, Lyons Dep. Exs. 13,
ECF No. 46-11). The evaluation included a drug test, which
was performed on Dec. 13 and yielded a positive result for
cocaine. (First Lyons Dep. Transcript 45). Mr. Lyons then
informed Charles Glicksman - the Hospital employee performing
the in-person part of the evaluation - that he had used
cocaine while employed by the Hospital “three to four
times” and that this use was a symptom of his bipolar
disorder. (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 10, Second Lyons Dep. Transcript
2-3, ECF No. 46-10). He also indicated to Mr. Glicksman that
he had used cocaine before he was employed by the Hospital.
(Id. 3-4). In fact, he had used cocaine at least as
far back as 1996. (First Lyons Dep. Transcript 4).
Hospital did not immediately terminate Mr. Lyons. Instead, it
approved a leave of absence - which the plaintiff requested -
until February 25, 2013. (First Lyons Dep. Transcript 47;
Lyons Dep. Exs. 18). Mr. Glicksman also referred the
plaintiff to two drug treatment facilities: The Resource
Group and The Kolmac Clinic. (Second Lyons Dep. Transcript 4,
21; Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 3, Glicksman Decl. 2-3, ECF No. 46-3).
Mr. Lyons started treatment at The Resource Group on December
28, 2012. (Second Lyons Dep. Transcript 4-5). The Resource
Group urged him to participate in its Intensive Outpatient
Program (IOP), which Mr. Lyons knew would include random drug
tests. (Id. 7, 18-19). However, Mr. Lyons declined
to enroll in the IOP and then ended treatment at The Resource
Group altogether in early February 2013. (Id. 19).
After looking at its website, the plaintiff determined The
Kolmac Clinic was also “inadequate” and declined
to pursue treatment there. (Id. 21-22). Instead, the
plaintiff met about once per month with Dr. Chul Kwon, who
treated his bipolar disorder only. (Id. 22; Mot.
Summ J. Ex. 16, Kwon Dep. 5, ECF No. 46-16). Dr. Kwon
mistakenly believed the plaintiff was also undergoing
treatment for cocaine use at The Resource Group. (Kwon Dep.
his leave of absence, the Hospital was aware that Mr. Lyons
was not following the treatment options that Mr. Glicksman
had recommended. In January 2013, a counselor at The Resource
Group told Mr. Glicksman she had referred the plaintiff to
the IOP; that she thought he was minimizing his drug use; and
that she was not convinced his drug use was only tied to his
mood disorder. On February 19, the counselor told Mr.
Glicksman the plaintiff had ended treatment at The Resource
Group without participating in the IOP, and this information
was relayed to the plaintiff's supervisors. (Glicksman
March 26, 2013, Mr. Lyons emailed Ms. Heneberry and other
Hospital employees requesting to return to work on April 15.
He also requested accommodations - specifically, regularly
scheduled daytime working hours and two consecutive days off
each week. (Lyons Dep. Exs. 34-35). When the Hospital
informed him that he needed to be cleared by Occupational
Health Services (“OHS”) before he could return to
work, the plaintiff said he would like assurances that his
proposed accommodations would be fully considered before he
subjected himself to a health examination. (Id.
33-35). The Hospital never stated whether his proposed
accommodations were acceptable; according to the Hospital, no
response was given because the accommodations related to the
plaintiff's work schedule, and Mr. Lyons had not yet been
cleared to return. (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 14, Osborn Dep. 13-15,
ECF No. 46-14). On April 16, Mr. Lyons called OHS and asked
for a “return to work assessment, ” but OHS told
him he must first meet with the Hospital's Faculty and
Staff Assistance Program (“FASAP”) for an initial
fitness for duty evaluation. (Second Lyons Dep. Transcript
26-29). Before that evaluation took place, the Hospital
terminated the plaintiff on April 18 because, in its view,
Mr. Lyons had not complied with its drug treatment
recommendations. (Osborn Dep. 5, 12). The Hospital notified
Mr. Lyons of his discharge in a letter dated April 18, which
he received on May 2. (Resp. in Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., Ex.
2, Lyons Exs. 6, ECF No. 47-2). Mr. Lyons claims he did not
use any illegal drugs between December 13, 2012 (when he
tested positive for cocaine) and May 2, 2013 (when he learned
his job had been terminated). (Lyons Exs. 5). During that
same time period, he also never informed the Hospital that he
had stopped using cocaine, and he was never tested for
illegal drug use. (Second Lyons Dep. Transcript 25, 36).
4, 2013, Mr. Lyons filed an internal complaint with the
Hospital's Office of Workforce Diversity
(“OWD”) in which he claimed he was never given an
opportunity to explore workplace accommodations. The
complaint form lists possible bases for discrimination; Mr.
Lyons marked the box next to “disability” but not
the box next to “retaliation.” (Mot. Summ. J. Ex.
5, OWD Complaint, ECF No. 46-5). The Hospital abandoned that
internal investigation upon learning the plaintiff had also
filed an external charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
(Osborn Dep. 10-11; Lyons Dep. Exs. 36). In his EEOC charge,
Mr. Lyons claims the discrimination he allegedly suffered
took place at the earliest on March 26, 2013. As the basis
for the alleged discrimination, Mr. Lyons again checked the
box for “disability” but not the box for
“retaliation.” (Lyons Dep. Exs. 36). In a written
summary included in the EEOC charge, the plaintiff claimed he
requested accommodations in March 2013 but never received a
reply other than a discharge letter and thus “was
denied reasonable accommodation and discharged due to
disability” in violation of the ADA. (Id.).
on March 19, 2013, Ms. Heneberry filed a complaint about Mr.
Lyons to the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners
(“the Board”). (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 12, Heneberry
Dep. 10, ECF No. 46-12). She did so because she believed the
plaintiff had a substance abuse problem and was not receiving
treatment. (Id.). The Board then brought charges
against Mr. Lyons under the Maryland Social Work Examiners
Act on November 8, 2013. (Lyons Dep. Exs. 37-41). In March
2014, the Board and the plaintiff agreed to a Consent Order
under which Mr. Lyons was put on probation and ordered to
undergo mandatory drug testing. (Id. 46-52). The
plaintiff failed to comply with the Consent Order, in part
because he failed to show up for three drug tests.
(Id. 59). In January 2015, Mr. Lyons voluntarily
surrendered his license to practice social work due to
“health concerns.” (Id. 61-63).
plaintiff's amended complaint, filed January 22, 2016,
lists three counts. Count I alleges discrimination under the
ADA based on a failure to accommodate and failure to engage
in an interactive process. According to Mr. Lyons, this
unlawful conduct occurred both before and after he was placed
on leave. (Amended Compl. ¶¶ 71-81, ECF No. 37).
Counts II and III both allege retaliation. Count II alleges
the Hospital's decision to terminate Lyons was
retaliation for Lyons taking leave and requesting
accommodations. (Id. ¶¶ 82-90). Count III
alleges the Hospital retaliated against Mr. Lyons by
reporting him to the Board after learning he had filed an
internal complaint. (Id. ¶¶ 91-98).
court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (See Amended Compl.
¶¶ 4-5). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a)
provides that summary judgment should be granted “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)
(emphases added). “A dispute is genuine if ‘a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.'” Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd,
718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Dulaney v.
Packaging Corp. of Am., 673 F.3d 323, 330 (4th Cir.
2012)). “A fact is material if it ‘might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'”
Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Accordingly, “the
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment[.]”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. The court must view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014)
(per curiam), and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor, Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007) (citations omitted); see also Jacobs v. N.C.
Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th
Cir. 2015). At the same time, the court must “prevent
factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to
trial.” Bouchat v. Balt. Ravens Football Club,
Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir.