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Blumentritt v. Mayo Clinic Health System- Franciscan Healthcare Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

February 6, 2019

TIMOTHY BLUMENTRITT, Plaintiff,
v.
MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM-FRANCISCAN HEALTHCARE, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Timothy Blumentritt used to work as a case manager for defendant Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, Inc. Blumentritt alleges that Mayo Clinic fired him because of his sex, sexual orientation, and HIV and Hepatitis C diagnoses, and in retaliation for a complaint he filed about sexual orientation discrimination. Blumentritt brings claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a) and 2000e-3(a), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). Mayo Clinic has filed a motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 27, which is now briefed and ready for decision.

         The court will grant the motion. Blumentritt concedes that he does not have the evidence to support a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As for the Title VII claims, the undisputed facts show that Mayo Clinic disciplined and ultimately fired Blumentritt for his chronic inability to complete patient charts. No. reasonable jury could find that this reason was pretextual, or that Blumentritt's supervisors were motivated by a discriminatory intent. And Blumentritt has not adduced any evidence that the supervisors who fired him were aware of his alleged discrimination complaint, let alone retaliated against him for it.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The court's assessment of the facts of this case is complicated by Blumentritt's failure to comply with the court's summary judgment procedures. Blumentritt purports to dispute some of the facts proposed by Mayo Clinic, Dkt. 36, but Blumentritt commonly failed to either state his version of the fact or cite evidence that supported his version, as the court's procedures require. Dkt. 13, at 10-11. (“If you dispute a proposed fact, state your version of the fact and cite to evidence that supports that version.”). Instead, he simply asserted that a fact was “disputed” and cited generally to his affidavit, his own proposed findings of fact, or his brief, without pinpointing any evidence that would actually raise a dispute. The court's procedures require more. Id. at 11 (“The court will not search the record for evidence. Supporting evidence should be clearly cited and submitted.”) Mayo Clinic's reply document, Dkt. 40, lays out the deficiencies in Blumentritt's responses.[1] The court will deem Mayo Clinic's proposed findings of fact to be undisputed. Id. at 10 (“The court will conclude that a proposed fact is undisputed unless the responding party explicitly disputes it and either identifies contradictory evidence in the record, or demonstrates that the proponent of the fact does not have admissible evidence to support it.”).

         The court has reviewed the documents submitted by Blumentritt, and the court is persuaded that even if the court scoured the record, Blumentritt has failed to adduce evidence that would raise a genuine dispute as to the facts that are material to Mayo Clinic's motion.

         The following facts are undisputed, except where noted.

         Blumentritt is a gay man. He started working for Mayo Clinic in 1990 as a case manager, coordinating mental health services for patients. As part of his duties, he was responsible for filling out admission and discharge papers, patient treatment plans, and other documents that went into patient charts.

         In 2005, Blumentritt was promoted to a supervisor position, in which he oversaw other case managers and staff at several of Mayo Clinic's inpatient and outpatient facilities. While in the position as supervisor, Blumentritt reported to Bob Hillary, the director of behavioral health services, and Julie Conway, the department manager.

         While Blumentritt was a supervisor, Conway made several comments to him related to his sexual orientation. During meetings, she would regularly note whether other employees were also gay. She did not make similar comments about heterosexual employees. At one time, she announced in Blumentritt's presence, “I wonder if my son is gay. He's artistic and he's sensitive. Well, if he was, I guess I would have no choice but to deal with it.” Dkt. 41, ¶ 33.

         At an unspecified time, [2] Julie Blakeman, an employee whom Blumentritt supervised, told him that she found out he was gay. She told him “Anyway, I'm sorry about it. I wanted to let you know I know you're gay. I'm ok with it (pause), but my religion isn't.” Dkt. 41, ¶ 37. The next day, Blumentritt reported the incident to Hillary and Conway. But neither Hillary nor Conway spoke with Blakeman about the comments.

         For several years, Blumentritt did well in the supervisor position. Through 2010, he received positive performance reviews from Hillary. But Hillary also noted that Blumentritt did not keep patient charts up to date. Up-to-date charts are important not only to maintain the quality of patient care, but also to comply with licensing requirements and state regulations. Hillary told Blumentritt that this was an area where he needed to improve, but he did not discipline Blumentritt for it.

         In 2010, for unexplained reasons, Blumentritt became overwhelmed with his responsibilities as supervisor. He returned to a case manager position, and Gretchen Scharringhausen replaced him as supervisor. As a case manager, Blumentritt reported to Scharringhausen and Conway rather than Hillary. Blumentritt retained some of the duties that he had been assigned as supervisor, such as his role as a Mayo Clinic representative in several community organizations. These extra duties meant that he had more responsibilities than other employees in his department.

         Although no longer a supervisor, Blumentritt continued to have issues keeping up with patient documentation. An audit in November 2011 revealed that Blumentritt had about 40 incomplete patient charts. This was a serious problem for Mayo Clinic, because if Blumentritt did not complete all of his documentation by mid-January, the clinic would be in violation of state regulations. Conway and Scharringhausen met with Blumentritt on December 5, and Blumentritt signed a “coaching form, ” in which he agreed to complete one or two charts every day until he was caught up. Dkt. 32-1. But Blumentritt did not keep this pace. On February 9, he still had about 15 charts that were incomplete

         Conway and Scharringhausen placed Blumentritt on “formal performance counseling” until he finished updating his patient's charts. By March 6, Blumentritt was all caught up and was taken off of performance counseling. At his next performance review, on June 25, Scharringhausen gave Blumentritt positive feedback for fixing his documentation problem.

         But in November 2012, Conway and Scharringhausen learned that a staff member was preparing insulin for a mental health patient, in violation of Mayo Clinic's policy. And when they investigated the incident, they discovered that the patient's chart-which Blumentritt was responsible for-was missing progress notes from the relevant time period. They also learned that Blumentritt was aware of the staff member's conduct but did not intervene or report the conduct to Conway and Scharringhausen.

         After this incident, Conway and Scharringhausen placed Blumentritt back on performance counseling and gave him an improvement plan. Along with his ordinary duties, the plan required Blumentritt to:

1) write a document explaining the clinic's chain of command and submit it by November 9;
2) meet with Scharringhausen to clarify his roles and responsibilities by November 16 and submit a written summary of his roles and responsibilities by November 21; and
3) review the “five safe behaviors” and write a document explaining how they could have been applied to the insulin incident by November 23;

Dkt. 31-3, at 2. Conway and Scharringhausen warned Blumentritt that any failure to complete documentation according to Mayo Clinic's policies, or failure to adhere to the plan's timeline, would result in discharge.

         Blumentritt completed the first step without difficulty, but Blumentritt and Scharringhausen were unable to meet for the second step until November 27. By that point, the deadlines for the second and third steps of the plan had already passed. So they scheduled a meeting for November 30, during which (1) Blumentritt would hand in the written summary of his roles and ...


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