Judge Rodriguez Enters Summary Judgment in Employment Dispute Over Tennis Elbow

Overton v. Seaborn Health Care, Inc., No. SA-12-CV-635-XR, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Nov. 27, 2013)(Rodriguez, J.) 

Working for a government contractor can add wrinkles to employment disputes.  This case illustrates the point.  Seaborn Health Care provided phlebotomy services at Lackland Air Force Base.  Overton was a Seaborn employee onsite at Lackland, where she drew blood and checked patients in using a computer system.  Slip op. at 1.  She worked directly under the supervision of two sergeants and without any Seaborn supervisor onsite.  Id.  Overton developed tennis elbow, which she believed was caused by repeatedly drawing blood.  After the injury flared up a second time, she was released to work, but limited to drawing blood for no more than two hours.  Id. at 2.  A feud erupted when one of the sergeants interpreted the restrictions to mean Overton was to return home after the two hours of work and the sergeant exercised her contractual right to prohibit Seaborn from using Overton at Lackland.  Id.  Seaborn then terminated Overton. Id. at 3. 

The District Court concluded that her claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 and section 451 of the Texas Worker’s Compensation Act failed because (a) there was no evidence that Seaborn refused any requested accommodation, (b) the accommodation she cited during the litigation (checking patients in and training students) was not reasonable because it would have violated her doctor’s restrictions and shifted more work to others, (c) there was no evidence of disability discrimination, and (d) Overton’s confrontation with the Lackland personnel was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating her.  Id. at 8-12.  Therefore, the District Court entered summary judgment against Overton.  Id. at 13.

Judge Rodriguez Finds Untimely Removal

Freeman v. SSC San Antonio Silver Creek Operating GP LLC, No. SA-13-CV-879-XR, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Nov. 26, 2013)(Rodriguez, J.)

The issue in this personal injury case was the timeliness of removal.  personal injury case was removed from state court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction 30 days after Freeman voluntarily non-suited the lone non-diverse party.  Slip op. at 1-2.  Freeman claimed she was injured while at work at the Silver Creek Manor Nursing Home.  Her suit named the companies and partnerships apparently involved in the ownership of the nursing home, three of which had names beginning with “SMV.”  Id. at  1-2.  SMV Management LLC, the Texas resident filed an answer that denied any association with the nursing home.  At the other defendants’ request, Freeman voluntarily dropped SMV Management LLC from the suit.  Id. at 2.  Thirty days after receiving the non-suit, the other defendants removed.  Id.  Freeman moved to remand, arguing that the 30-day removal period was triggered by well before the non-suit.  The District Court agreed, finding that SMC Management LLC’s answer made it “unequivocally clear” that the non-diverse defendant was improperly joined, meaning the case was removable at that time under Smallwood v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., 385 F.3d 568, 573 (5th Cir. 2002).  Slip op. at 4-5.

Judge Rodriguez Grants Motion for Reconsideration and Dismisses Section 1983 Claims

Foddrill v. McManus, No. SA-13-CV-51-XR, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Nov. 26, 2013)(Rodriguez, J.)

Motions for reconsideration rarely yield a different result.  This opinion is one of those rarities.  Foddrill claimed that San Antonio violated his constitutional rights by issuing a Criminal Trespass Warning (CTW) banning him from city properties from July 1, 2009 through April 1, 2013.  Slip op. at 1.  A month before the ban expire, Foddrill filed this pro se section 1983 action.  Id.  The District Court denied the defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion, rejecting their argument that Foddrill’s claims were barred by the applicable two-year statute of limitations.  The District Court concluded that Foddrill’s claims were subject to the continuing violation doctrine, which tolls limitations until the challenged conduct ceases.  Id. at 2.  In this opinion, the District Court determined the doctrine was inapplicable and dismissed Foddrill’s claims.  Id. at 2-8.