United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Bryce M. Miller, Esq., Caitlin M. Grom, Esq. and Schaefer Law Firm, LLC, Minneapolis, MN, counsel for plaintiff.
Jana M. O'Leary Sullivan, Esq., League of Minnesota Cities, St. Paul, MN, counsel for defendant.
David S. Doty, United States District Judge.
This matter is before the court upon the motion for summary judgment by defendant City of Coon Rapids (the City). Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion.
This employment dispute arises out of the March 29, 2012, termination of plaintiff Wayne Anderson. Anderson worked for the City as a career firefighter. Ex. 33. When Anderson turned 55, he became eligible for a monthly benefit paid by the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). Fulton Dep. at 91:7-10. As a union member, he was subject to a collective bargaining agreement that allowed for a 23.33% payout of accumulated sick leave upon his severance. Sullivan Aff. Ex. 7, at 12.
In 2005, Anderson began experiencing symptoms of endocarditis, a heart infection. Anderson Dep. at 88:16-89:12. He was diagnosed in May 2006, and he continues to be monitored for the condition. Id . at 90:1-92:12; 101:14-20. In 2011, Anderson saw neurologist Moeen Masood for complaints regarding fatigue, gait instability, and muscle weakness.
Id. at 93:2-12; Grom Decl. Ex. A. Masood ordered a muscle biopsy to rule out alternative causes for his symptoms. Anderson Dep. at 101:2-9; Grom Decl. Ex. A. On October 25, 2011, the City received a letter from Masood stating that Anderson could not return to work until November 25, 2011. Sullivan Aff. Ex. 12.
On November 15, 2011, Anderson left a voicemail with Jill Pocklington, the City's human resources coordinator, stating the following:
I have to prepare myself for early retirement. All of the medical tests are in. I'm pretty sure Dr. [Halverston's] not going to let me come back. But, you know, one thing at a time.
Sullivan Aff. Ex. 13; Anderson Dep. 131:23-132:6. On December 1, 2011, Masood met with Anderson and explained that the biopsy results showed he had muscular dystrophy. Anderson Dep. at 124:1-5, 131:12-13; Grom Ex. A. Masood recommended that Anderson seek a second opinion. Anderson Dep. 93:9-24; 138:10-17.
On December 2, 2011, Masood completed an attachment to Anderson's FMLA paperwork. Sullivan Aff. Ex. 11, at 3-6. Masood stated that Anderson had a permanent and potentially progressive muscle disease and that he could no longer work as a firefighter. Id. at 4-5. On December 8, 2011, Anderson met with Phillip Hoversten for a fitness-for-duty examination. Id. Ex. 16. Although Hoversten did not conduct new tests on Anderson, he reviewed Masood's findings and concluded that " Mr. Anderson is not fit for firefighting." Id.; Anderson Dep. 126:10-12.
Anderson then sought out John Piper, the head of the City's Fire Department, to inform him about the diagnosis. Anderson Dep. at 134:16-135:17. Anderson told Piper that he was going to seek care at the University of Minnesota. Id. at 138:6-22. Anderson alleges that Piper approached him less than one hour after the meeting and told ...