Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carnicella v. Mercy Hospital

Supreme Court of Maine

July 20, 2017

BETH CARNICELLA
v.
MERCY HOSPITAL

          Argued: June 14, 2017

          Sarah A. Churchill, Esq. (orally), Nichols & Churchill, P.A., Portland, for appellant Beth Carnicella

          Katherine I. Rand, Esq. (orally), Pierce Atwood LLP, Portland, for appellee Mercy Hospital

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

          MEAD, J.

         [¶1] Beth Carnicella appeals from a summary judgment entered by the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Mills, J.) in favor of Mercy Hospital on her complaint that Mercy discriminated against her in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA). See 5 M.R.S. §§ 4551-4634 (2016). Carnicella argues that the court erred by determining that she was not a "qualified individual with a disability" as defined by the MHRA, and by failing to determine that Mercy did not meet its obligation to identify a reasonable accommodation for her disability. We affirm the judgment.

          I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts are presented in the light most favorable to Carnicella and are supported by the summary judgment record. See Trottv. H.D. GoodallHosp., 2013 ME 33, ¶ 2, 66 A.3d 7.

         [¶3] In 2011, Beth Carnicella was hired by Mercy Hospital as a part-time registered nurse (RN) at Mercys Express Care facility in Gorham. On July 29, 2013, Carnicella was diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Carnicella requested a leave of absence to begin on August 9, 2013, to have surgery; she expected to be out of work for only two weeks. In a letter dated August 1, 2013, Mercy granted her up to ten weeks of leave pursuant to Maines Family Medical Leave statute. See 26 M.R.S. § 844 (2016). The letter also stated: "Once you are ready to return to work, have your Physician fax ... a letter ... stating the date youre cleared to return to work."

         [¶4] After her surgery, Carnicella developed complications that affected her ability to move her left arm properly. On September 20, 2013, Mercy sent Carnicella a letter reminding her that her leave would expire on October 18, 2013, and that if she needed an extension, she must file a written request with the human resources department. The letter also stated in bold print that she "must have clearance from [her] Physician before [she] return[s] to work." At that time, Carnicellas medical provider had not released her to return to work.

         [¶5] Carnicella requested an extension of her leave through November 18, 2013, which Mercy granted. In the October 10 letter granting the request, Mercy reiterated the need for Carnicellas physician to clear her to work prior to her return. Carnicella was unable to return to work on November 19 and requested a second extension of her leave. Mercy again extended Carnicellas leave and held her position open for her.

         [¶6] Based on the information provided to Mercy by Carnicellas medical providers, Mercy expected her to return to work on or about December 31, 2013. Anticipating her return to work, Mercy sent Carnicella a memorandum dated December 13 regarding any reasonable accommodation she may need due to a disability. The memorandum explained, among other things, that it was "up [to her] to alert [her] supervisor or human resources to [her] need for accommodation." Carnicella returned the form having checked a box indicating that she "would like to go forward with the process of requesting a reasonable accommodation."

         [¶7] On or around December 18, 2013, Mercy received a "Health Care Provider Questionnaire Regarding Employee Disability and Accommodation" completed by Carnicellas surgeon. The form asked, among other things, whether there was a medical reason why Carnicella could not work her normal twenty-four-hour-per-week schedule, to which Carnicellas surgeon responded, "Yes. Cannot lift over 3 pounds or do repetitive computer, telephone work." Another question on the form asked: "Will Patient require any reasonable accommodations to enable him/her to perform the essential functions of his/her job (please consult enclosed job description). If so, what accommodations do you recommend?" In response, Carnicellas surgeon wrote: "Pending return to work - anticipated return to work 3/15/14."

         [¶8] On January 21, 2014, Carnicellas primary care physician-who had taken over management of Carnicellas medical issues-wrote to Mercy regarding ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.