DECISION AND ORDER
the court is defendant Mercy Hospital's motion for
summary judgment in plaintiff Beth Carnicella's action
for disability discrimination. For the following reasons, the
motion is granted.
March 2011, defendant hired plaintiff as a per diem
Registered Nurse (RN). (Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶ 1.) In June
2011, plaintiff became a part time RN at defendant's
Express Care branch in Gorham. (Id. ¶¶
2-3.) The part time position was for 24 hours per week,
although plaintiff often worked more than that. (Pl.'s
Addt'l S.M.F. ¶¶ 6-7.) A typical shift was
staffed by two RNs and one medical assistant. (Supp.'g
S.M.F. ¶ 11.) Occasionally, only one RN was present
during a shift. Q&¶ 12.)
part time position involved performing certain physical
tasks, including lifting, pushing, and pulling. (Id.
¶ 6.) The job description, which applied to all RN
positions, listed as a physical requirement the ability to
lift up to 30 pounds constantly and up to 50 pounds
frequently. (Id. ¶ 4; Opp. S.M.F. J 4.) In
plaintiff's experience, Express Care RNs were more likely
to lift up to 30 pounds and only rarely engaged in heavier
lifting. (Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶¶ 31, 33.)
Plaintiff maintains that she most commonly lifted "a
couple of pounds, " a fact which defendant disputes.
(Id., ¶¶ 36-37; Def.'s Reply S.M.F.
¶¶ 36-37.) Plaintiff agrees, however, that
"assisting patients into wheelchairs . . . getting them
on a stretcher, crutch training, lifting, pushing, and
pulling" were requirements of her job. (Supp.'g
S.M.F. ¶ 6; Opp. S.M.F. ¶ 6.)
29, 2013, plaintiff was diagnosed with breast cancer and
learned she would need to undergo surgery. (Supp.'g
S.M.F. ¶ 14.) That same day, she requested leave from
work under the Family Medical Leave Act. (Id. ¶
15.) By letter dated August 1, 2013, defendant granted
plaintiff a 10-week medical leave. (Id. ¶ 17.)
The letter stated: "Once you are ready to return to
work, have your Physician fax me a letter . . . stating the
date you're cleared to return to work."
(Id. ¶ 18; Opp. S.M.F.¶ 18.)
her surgery, plaintiff developed lymphedema, which caused her
to experience difficulty moving her left arm properly.
(Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff concedes that she
would find it difficult to use her left shoulder to push,
pull, or lift anything. (Id. ¶ 89; Opp. S.M.F.
¶ 89.) Plaintiff is right hand dominant and asserts that
her lymphedema did not affect the use of her right arm.
(Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶¶ 1, 3.)
letter dated September 20, 2013, defendant reminded plaintiff
that her medical leave would expire on October 18, 2013.
(Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶ 20.) The letter further stated, in
bold: "You must have clearance from your Physician
before you return to work." (Id. ¶ 21.)
Plaintiff requested an extension of her medical leave until
November 18, 2013, which defendant granted by letter dated
October 10, 2013. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24.) The
October 10 letter reiterated that a physician would need to
clear plaintiff before she could return to work.
(Id. ¶ 25.) The parties agree that no doctor
has released plaintiff to return to work since the 2013
surgery. (Id. ¶ 75; Opp. S.M.F. ¶75.)
Plaintiff was unable to return to work on November 19, 2013
and requested a second extension, which defendant granted.
(Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 27, 31.) Defendant expected
plaintiff to return to work on December 31, 2013.
(Id. ¶ 32.) Defendant sent plaintiff a letter
dated December 13, 2013, which explained the process for
obtaining accommodations. (Id. ¶ 33.) The
letter stated in part: "It is always up [to] you to
alert your supervisor or human resources to your need for
accommodation." (Id. ¶ 35.) Plaintiff
returned to defendant an accommodation request form
indicating that she wished to participate in the reasonable
accommodation process. (Id. ¶37.)
December 18, 2013, defendant received a questionnaire
completed by Dr. Melinda Molin, plaintiff's breast
surgeon. (Id. ¶ 38; Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F.
¶ 9.) In response to defendant's question inquiring
whether there was a medical reason plaintiff could not return
to work, Dr. Molin had written "yes, cannot lift over 3
pounds or do repetitive computer, telephone work."
(Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶ 39.) In response to
defendant's question inquiring whether plaintiff would
require any accommodations, Dr. Molin had written
"pending return to work-anticipated return to work
3/15/14." (Id., ¶40.)
the time Dr. Molin completed the questionnaire, she
transferred plaintiff's care back to her primary care
physician, Dr. Heather Schwemm. (Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶
41; Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶ 9.) On January 21,
2014, Dr. Schwemm sent a letter to defendant's Human
Resources Director, Elizabeth Christensen, which stated that,
in her opinion, it would not be appropriate for plaintiff to
return to work on March 15, 2014. (Supp.'g S.M.F.
¶¶ 41-42; Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶ 13.)
Dr. Schwemm wrote that plaintiff "cannot use her left
arm and I have told her that she needs to recover sufficient
strength in her arm to do her job safely." (Supp.'g
S.M.F. ¶ 42.) Dr. Schwemm estimated that plaintiff would
be able to return to work without restrictions by June 1,
January 24, 2014, plaintiff met with Ms. Christensen and
plaintiff's supervisor, Amanda VanHorn. (Supp.'g
S.M.F. ¶ 43.) Ms. Christensen informed plaintiff that
defendant would extend her leave until March 15, 2014, but if
she were unable to return to work at that time, defendant
would need to post her position due to staffing shortages.
(Id. ¶¶ 49-54.) Ms. Christensen further
stated that, if defendant filled her position, plaintiff
could return to work on a per diem basis. (Id., ¶ 56.)
February 2014, Ms. VanHorn was preparing the schedule for
April, May, and June. (Id. ¶ 58.) Defendant
asserts that Ms. VanHorn sent plaintiff a text message and
left her a voicemail asking whether plaintiff would appear on
the schedule, and that plaintiff did not return these
messages. (Id., ¶¶ 60-61.) Plaintiff counters that
Ms. VanHorn's messages did not inquire about adding her
to the schedule and that she was in regular contact with Ms.
VanHorn during this time. (Opp. S.M.F. ¶¶ 60-61.)
March 15, 2014, Ms. Christensen left plaintiff a voicemail
asking whether plaintiff would be able to return to work.
(Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 63-64.) Defendant did not
ask Dr. Schwemm to provide an update on plaintiff's
condition at this time. (Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶
25.) In response to Ms. Christensen's message, plaintiff
left Ms. Christensen a voicemail stating that she was not
able to return to work. (Supp.'g S.M.F. ¶ 65.) Ms.
Christensen interpreted plaintiff's voicemail to mean
that plaintiff did not wish to remain employed on a per diem
basis. (Id. ¶ 66.) Ms. Christensen processed