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Dickerson v. City of Georgetown

United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

May 20, 2015



Joseph M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge

This matter is before the Court upon Defendant City of Georgetown’s Motion for Summary Judgment. [DE 17].

Plaintiff Lance Dickerson has filed a response, [DE 24], and Defendant has filed a reply. [DE 25]. The Court being otherwise sufficiently advised, the matter is now ripe for the Court’s review.

I. Background

Plaintiff Lance Dickerson began his employment with the City of Georgetown as a police officer in September, 2008. He sustained a work-related injury in February, 2011, and filed a worker’s compensation claim later that year that was ultimately settled. [DE 17-1 at ¶3; DE 24 at 1; DE 17-5 at 52; 108-10]. After that, Plaintiff was off work using sick, vacation, and FMLA leave until June, 2012. [DE 17-1 at ¶3; DE 24 at 1]. Plaintiff’s return began the period of his employ with Defendant that serves as the primary basis for this lawsuit.

Plaintiff received two reprimands[1] after his return to work in 2012. Between January and March of 2013, he was found asleep at work on two occasions and was a “no call-no show” on one occasion. [DE 71-1 at ¶ 4-5; DE 24 at 1-2; DE 1-3 at ¶ 30-35]. Then, on April 18, 2013, the police department received an anonymous complaint that Plaintiff was obtaining prescription medication beyond the time frame recommended by his physician. The department began an investigation and Plaintiff was placed on administrative leave with pay while the investigation was ongoing. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 7]. The investigation was subsequently closed, the department having concluded that although a large amount of opiates had been prescribed to Plaintiff and filled in a short period of time, there was no violation of law or department procedure. [DE 24 at 2; Georgetown Police Internal Investigation, DE 17-6 at 4].

Around April 30, 2013, Plaintiff reported to his employer that he had a seizure. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 8; DE 24 at 2]. Because of the seizure, Plaintiff was not allowed to drive for ninety days under Kentucky law. While unable to drive, he requested and was granted an accommodation and assigned to desk duty. Plaintiff was not allowed to wear a uniform and carry a weapon while in that position. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 8-11; DE 24 at 2].

On June 2, 2013, Plaintiff reported to a supervisor that someone had stolen his prescription medications. Later that month, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Attorney’s General Office began an investigation into an allegation it had received from a physician claiming Plaintiff had picked up overlapping prescriptions for a controlled substance. Plaintiff accused a pharmacy technician of stealing these medications, but the OIG concluded that Plaintiff had picked them up himself. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 16-18; DE 17-7]. In spite of this, no drug law was broken, and the investigation was closed with no further action from the OIG. [DE 17-7 at 9].

Then, on June 13, 2013, Plaintiff was observed, again, sleeping at his desk twice in one day. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 13]. Around this time, although it is unclear precisely when, Plaintiff requested and was granted leave under the FMLA to address his anxiety. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 14; DE 24 at 2]. Also around this time, and while Plaintiff was on FMLA leave, the Chief of Police, Michael D. Bosse, ordered an internal investigation into Plaintiff sleeping on duty. [DE 17-6 at 6; DE 24 at 2]. The police department attempted to conduct an interview with Plaintiff relating to its investigation and was eventually able to serve him with a 48-hour notice for an administrative interview on August 14, 2013. Plaintiff did not attend the interview. [DE 17-1 at ¶19-21; DE 24 at 2]. Also, during the course of the investigation, on June 18th, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance with the department alleging disability, harassment, and discrimination. [DE 17-5 at 84].

Disciplinary charges against Plaintiff were prepared on August 28, 2013, and served on Plaintiff through his counsel on September 11, 2013, notifying Plaintiff that a termination hearing would be held September 17, 2013. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 22-23; DE 24 at 2]. Plaintiff did not attend the hearing on the 17th, although the reasons for his non-attendance are in dispute. However, his attorney did appear and asked for a continuance. [DE 17-5 at 128-30]. His request was denied, and Plaintiff’s employment was terminated effective September 30, 2013. [DE 17-1 at ¶ 24-25; DE 24 at 2-3].

II. Standard of Review

A motion for summary judgment may only 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). “On summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts . . . must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). “The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a sufficient showing to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

III. Analysis

A. Kentucky Civil Rights Act ...

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