Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Auth.

Kroll was an emergency medical technician (EMT) for WLAA when she began a romantic affair with her married coworker. As the relationship unraveled, Kroll became increasingly emotional at work. After Kroll had a personal altercation with one a coworker, her supervisor expressed concern regarding her “immoral” sexual conduct and demanded that she undergo psychological counseling. When Kroll refused, she was fired. Kroll claimed that WLAA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring a medical examination that was not “job-related and consistent with business necessity,” 42 U.S.C. 12112(d)(4)(A). On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of WLAA. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, finding that there was evidence record to establish a genuine factual dispute as to whether the required counseling was “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” View "Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Auth." on Justia Law

Nat’l Mining Ass’n v. Sec’y of Labor

The 1977 Mine Act, 30 U.S.C. 801(c), authorizes the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to promulgate mandatory health or safety standards, conduct regular inspections of mines, and issue citations and orders for violations of the Act or regulations. If an operator has a pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards and has been given required notice and an opportunity to comply, the Act authorizes issuance of an order requiring the operator to vacate the mine until the violation has been abated. The MSHA promulgated the first pattern of violations rule in 1990. The final rule issued in 2013, as 30 C.F.R. Part 104. Mining interests challenged the rule. The Sixth Circuit dismissed, concluding that the rule is not within the definition of a mandatory health or safety standard over which the Act grants appeals courts jurisdiction. View "Nat'l Mining Ass'n v. Sec'y of Labor" on Justia Law

Payne v. Novartis Pharm. Corp.

Payne sued Novartis for failing to warn her doctor that two of the drugs it manufactures, Aredia and Zometa, could cause serious damage to a patient’s jaw bones. The drugs are given intravenously, most often to patients with cancerous conditions, and are effective in preventing pathological fractures and other bone pains. Payne took both in 1999-2001 and had to have part of her jaw removed in 2007 because of osteonecrosis, which results in the gums being eaten away until the bone is exposed The connection between the drugs and the condition began to come to light to the medical community in the early 2000’s. The district court entered summary judgment for Novartis. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Under Tennessee law, the question of whether Novartis’s failure to warn was a cause of Payne’s injuries is for a jury to determine. Payne’s testimony, combined with that of her doctor, could establish a sufficient causal link between Novartis’s failure to warn and Payne’s jaw death. A reasonable jury could conclude that Payne would not have taken Aredia or Zometa had her doctor warned her of the risk View "Payne v. Novartis Pharm. Corp." on Justia Law

Hayden v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.

Hayden worked as an office manager at MMI beginning in 1997 and was covered by its long-term disability plan, insured and administered by Liberty and subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001. Hayden suffers from chronic hepatitis C, pancreatitis, fibrocystic breast disease with breast implants, degenerative arthritis, breast carcinoma, hypothyroidism, hypotension, hypertension, and crepitation and decreased range of motion around her shoulders, cervical spine, hips, and knees. She stopped working in January 2010, and applied for benefits under the plan. She also submitted evidence from four doctors detailing general anxiety disorder, major depression, and insomnia. The district court affirmed the denial of benefits on Hayden’s physical-disability claim but remanded her mental-disability claim because the plan administrator failed to consider medical evidence from three doctors. On remand, the plan again rejected Hayden’s claim, and the district court affirmed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed with respect to Hayden’s physical-disability claim but reversed with respect to her mental-disability claim, instructing the district court to award Hayden mental-health benefits consistent with the terms of the plan. View "Hayden v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc." on Justia Law

N.W. v. Boone Cnty. Bd. of Educ.

N., an autistic child, born in 2004, was diagnosed with the speech disorder, apraxia. In 2007, N.’s parents enrolled him in district schools, which placed him at St. Rita’s School for the Deaf under an individual education program (IEP). In 2010, N.’s parents became dissatisfied, removed N. from the school, unilaterally placed him at ABS (another Cincinnati private school), and requested reimbursement for the tuition and transportation. The district generated a new IEP. The district and N.’s parents could not agree on placement. Mediation resulted in the district agreeing to reimburse tuition and transportation expenses incurred from August 19, 2010 to November 30, 2010 and to pay a portion of the costs through the summer of 2011. The parties created a tentative transition plan, but N.’s parents balked at its implementation and filed a due-process complaint. A hearing officer rejected their claims, but ordered the district to reimburse the costs of attending ABS during the 2011–2012 school year. The Exceptional Children Appeal Board reversed that “stay-put” decision, holding that ABS was not N.’s “placement.” In a suit under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400–1482, the district court found that N. had not established that the offer of placement at a district school with an autism-specific classroom was inappropriate, but that N.’s operative placement was ABS, requiring reimbursement. The Sixth Circuit vacated in part. IDEA bars a court from ordering reimbursement absent a finding that the district failed to provide a free and appropriate public education. View "N.W. v. Boone Cnty. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

Carl v. Muskegon Cnty.

While working as a home care provider, Carl experienced a psychotic break, urinating on one client’s head. Muskegon County prosecutors charged Carl with vulnerable-adult abuse. He was held at the county jail, which contracted mental health services to CMH. CMH employees examined Carl at the jail. McLaughlin, a physician’s assistant, indicated that Carl was “floridly psychotic,” that he had considered suicide, and that he required treatment in a psychiatric facility. McLaughlin had previously prescribed Carl an anti-psychotic medication but noted that it was “not very effective.” Weinert, a limited licensed psychologist, documented that Carl was “paranoid” and “require[d] intensive psychiatric treatment” and hospitalization. Dr. Jawor, a CHM independent contractor, examined Carl two days later. Carl denied feeling depressed, suicidal,or homicidal, and denied having paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Carl stated that he was “messing with” Weinert and McLaughlin. Jawor concluded that he did not meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. Carl sued (42 U.S.C. 1983) arguing that, due in part to Jawor’s negative certification, he did not receive mental health services he needed and that his uncontrolled psychotic state worsened, seriously harming his mental and physical health while detained. All defendants except Jawor were dismissed after signing a settlement agreement. The district court held that Jawor was not a state actor. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that Jawor acted under color of state law because she performed a public function by evaluating an individual in state custody. View "Carl v. Muskegon Cnty." on Justia Law

Haight v. Thompson

Five death-row inmates, housed in a maximum-security prison in Kentucky, filed suit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000cc-1(a), which prohibits state and local governments from placing “a substantial burden” on the “religious exercise” of any inmate unless they establish that the burden furthers a “compelling governmental interest” and does so in the “least restrictive” way. They made various claims, some related to requests to practice their Native American faith, some related to a request for clergy visits. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the prison officials. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part, holding that there was a triable issue of fact over whether RLUIPA gives the inmates a right to have access to a sweat lodge for faith-based ceremonies and a triable issue of fact over whether RLUIPA gives the inmates a right to buffalo meat and other traditional foods for a faith-based once-a-year powwow? RLUIPA, however, does not permit inmates to collect money damages from prison officials sued in their individual capacities. View "Haight v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Range v. Douglas

Over several years, Douglas sexually abused the dead bodies of murder victims held at the Hamilton County Morgue. His abuse of a body in 1982 led to a false rape conviction. Douglas’s actions were discovered in 2007 after his DNA was matched to semen found in the bodies. Douglas admitted to the abuse. He was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine every time he abused the bodies. Douglas was supervised by Kersker, the morgue director. Kersker admitted having concerns about Douglas’s tardiness and dependability as early as 1980. A co-worker testified that he often smelled alcohol on Douglas before, during, or after his shift. Douglas testified that his cocaine addiction was so bad by 1992 that he could not perform his duties due to heavy shaking. Douglas’s former wife testified that she called Kersker to complain that Douglas was drinking at work. Kersker hung up on her. Kersker may have known that Douglas was often having sex with live women at the morgue. Kersker knew about a domestic violence charge and DUIs because Douglas requested vacation time for incarceration. Douglas testified that he told Kersker about his suicide attempt, his psychiatric hospital stay, and his alcoholism. Kersker’s supervision of Douglas never changed. Relatives sued Douglas, who was also convicted of gross abuse of a corpse, and his supervisors, under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court rejected the claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. A jury could find that the defendants recklessly and wantonly failed to supervise Douglas despite the known risks he posed to the bodies, so the court properly denied Ohio statutory immunity. The relatives, however, cannot establish a constitutional violation, despite the special nature of their relationship to their deceased relatives. View "Range v. Douglas" on Justia Law

DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC v. Zemla

DiGeronimo and other employers contributed to the Teamsters Local Union No. 293 Pension Plan, which is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001–1461. Defendants are trustees of the Plan and managed the Plan, including negotiating and ratifying contribution rates and overseeing the Plan’s investments and expenses. Defendants terminated the Plan in December 2009 because substantially all of the Plan’s contributing employers withdrew from paying contributions. Defendants assessed $1,755,733 in “withdrawal liability” to DiGeronimo, which represents its share of the $49,000,000 in unfunded, vested benefits that the contributing employers owed the Plan. DiGeronimo sued defendants under 29 U.S.C. 1451(a), alleging that defendants negligently managed the Plan’s assets, causing increased withdrawal liability. The district court dismissed holding, that there was no substantive basis for the negligence claim in any section of ERISA or under the federal common law. The Sixth Circuit affirmed: a contributing employer to a multiemployer pension plan has no cause of action against plan trustees for negligent management under the federal common law of ERISA pension plans. View "DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC v. Zemla" on Justia Law

In re: Purdy

Between 2009 and 2012, Sunshine and Purdy, a Kentucky dairy farmer, entered into “Dairy Cow Leases.” Purdy received 435 cows to milk, and, in exchange, paid monthly rent to Sunshine. Purdy’s business faltered in 2012, and he sought bankruptcy protection. Sunshine moved to retake possession of the cattle. Citizens First Bank had a perfected purchase money security interest in Purdy’s equipment, farm products, and livestock, and claimed that its perfected security interest gave Citizens First priority over Sunshine with regard to the cattle. Citizens argued that the “leases” were disguised security agreements, that Purdy actually owned the cattle, and that the subsequently-acquired livestock were covered by the bank’s security interest. The bankruptcy court ruled in favor of Citizens, finding that the leases were per se security agreements. The Sixth Circuit reversed, noting that the terms of the agreements expressly preserve Sunshine’s ability to recover the cattle. Whether the parties strictly adhered to the terms of these leases is irrelevant to determining whether the agreements were true leases or disguised security agreements. Neither the bankruptcy court nor the parties sufficiently explained the legal import of Purdy’s culling practices or put forward any evidence that the parties altered the terms of the leases making them anything but leases. View "In re: Purdy" on Justia Law