Wonasue v. Univ. Of MD Alumni Assoc.

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Morning sickness is not an ADA disability (D.Md. 2013)
    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND Southern Division * SYLVIA WONASUE, * Plaintiff, * v. Case No.: PWG-11-3657 * UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, et al. , * Defendants. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * MEMORANDUM OPINION This Memorandum Opinion addresses and disposes of the Motion for Summary Judgment and accompanying Memorandum that Defendants Danita Nias and the University of Maryland Alumni Association (“UMAA”) filed, ECF Nos. 64 & 64-1. Plaintiff Sylvia Wonasue has not filed a response, and the time for doing so has passed. See  Loc. R. 105.2.a; ECF No. 71 (denying Plaintiff’s Motion to Extend Time for Response and to Accept Response Filed Out of Time, ECF No. 65); ECF No. 76 (denying Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration of Court’s Order Regarding Plaintiff’s Motion for the Defendants to Provide and for the Court to Consider the Full Deposition Transcript, ECF No. 72). For the reasons that follow, Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.  2   I.   BACKGROUND 1   On Wednesday, January 13, 2010, Ms. Wonasue felt weak, “almost faint,” and nauseous, and she was vomiting and bleeding “a little.” Wonasue Dep. 150:15 – 151:6, 152:19 – 153:1. 2  She went to the emergency room at Bowie Health Center and learned that she was pregnant.  Id. at 150:7–16, 152:14–16. Plaintiff testified that the emergency room physician, Fabrice Czarnecki, M.D., told her that she “was experiencing . . . the early sickness symptoms associated with pregnancy,” and that she “had low potassium which was related to [her] eating.”  Id. at 154:18 – 155:1. He did not “tell [her] that the vomiting and nausea was associated with any other medical condition.”  Id. at 151:7 – 152:1. Plaintiff testified that she “was really sick” that day, but “that’s the only time [she] remember[s] really vomiting like that during the pregnancy, and weak and faint.”  Id. at 156:14–17. Plaintiff characterizes these symptoms as “severe and unusual medical complications” to her pregnancy. Compl. ¶¶ 18–19, ECF No. 1. Dr. Czarnecki prescribed a “potassium medication because [Ms. Wonasue] needed that to help with the baby [ , ]  [a]nd he may have given [her] pills to help with the nausea.” Wonasue Dep.   1  In reviewing the evidence related to a motion for summary judgment, the Court considers undisputed facts, as well as the disputed facts viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.  Ricci v. DeStefano , 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009); George & Co., LLC v. Imagination  Entm’t Ltd. , 575 F.3d 383, 391–92 (4th Cir. 2009);  Dean v. Martinez , 336 F. Supp. 2d 477, 480 (D. Md. 2004). Because Defendants’ Motion is unopposed, “those facts established by the motion” are “uncontroverted.” Custer v. Pan Am. Life Ins. Co. , 12 F.3d 410, 416 (4th Cir. 1993). 2  Plaintiff’s November 1, 2012 deposition testimony cited here appears in three separate exhibits. Pages 148–60 appear in Exhibit 5 to Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiff’s Amended Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 50-5; pages 173–81 appear in Exhibit 6 to the same, ECF No. 50-4; and pages 163–67 appear in Exhibit A to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 64-2. The discharge papers from Plaintiff’s January 13, 2010 emergency room visit, Exhibit 10 from Ms. Wonasue’s deposition, also appear in Exhibit A to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. Although the exhibits to Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiff’s Amended Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint are not cited in Defendants’ Memorandum in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, they are a part of the record and I may consider them. See  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3).  3   at 154:12–14. Plaintiff testified that the physician “just thought that [she] needed to regulate the  potassium” and “other than that, he didn’t think it was a big deal.”  Id. at 155:4–6. She said that Dr. Czarnecki did not recommend “any major change regarding . . . food.”  Id. at 156:3–11. Plaintiff testified that the physician told her that her health “could create a problem with the  pregnancy,” and therefore he “wanted [her] to stay calm, take bed rest, drink lots of water . . . . don’t do any heavy work or heavy lifting, stride slowly, things like that.”  Id. at 157:2–10. Plaintiff’s discharge papers from Bowie Health Center included Discharge Instructions and a Work Release Form. The instructions indicated that she had hypokalemia, “a low level of  potassium in the blood,” for which she was directed to “[t]ake any potassium supplements  prescribed” and “[e]at foods rich in potassium.” Discharge Instructions 2. Plaintiff also suffered from dehydration, for which she was directed to drink appropriate amounts of fluids.  Id  . at 3. Additionally, the instructions indicated that Plaintiff had hyperemesis of pregnancy, “a severe form of ‘morning sickness’, where the vomiting is excessive and may cause dehydration and chemical imbalances in the body.”  Id  . at 4. The instructions discussed an appropriate diet, suggested Vitamin B6 to help reduce nausea, warned against “strong medicines during  pregnancy,” and directed Plaintiff to contact her gynecologist to schedule “an appointment to be seen within the next 4 days.”  Id. The “Activity” section, in its entirety, stated: “After awakening from sleep, remain in bed for 15 minutes before getting up.”  Id.  At the time, Plaintiff was working as executive manager of UMAA. Compl. ¶ 9. The Work Release Form stated that Ms. Wonasue “may return to work on 01/15/2010 with the following restrictions: None.” Work Release 1;  see Wonasue Dep. 164:10–12 (Work Release Form said that Plaintiff could “return to duty on January 15, 2010”). Plaintiff testified that her January 13, 2010 emergency room visit was her “only medical visit . . . prior to leaving the  4   Alumni Association,” and that she only received one “work release form . . . related to [her]  pregnancy before [she] left the Alumni Association.” Wonasue Dep. 163:9–16. Plaintiff “thought” she was supposed to be on bed rest “for two weeks initially.”  Id. at 167:17–18. During her deposition, Plaintiff could not identify where in her discharge papers the  physician ordered bed rest after January 15, 2010, but she said that “he talked to [her] about it that day at the hospital.”  Id. at 177:12–20. She insisted that the physician “did tell [her] specifically that [she] needed to get bed rest,” and that “[h]e was worried because the vomiting was severe” and Plaintiff “was so faint.”  Id. at 178:9–12. Plaintiff insists that she “had a paper” from her January 13, 2010 emergency room visit that “said on it have bed rest, drink a lot water, all the specific instructions,” but at her deposition, Plaintiff did not “know where it is.”  Id. at 164:13–21. Yet, she also testified that the physician “didn’t say [she] couldn’t work,” id. at 165:10–12, and did not “tell [her] that [she] had to stop work temporarily,” although “he told [her that she] had to get bed rest,” id. at 166:3–6. Plaintiff testified that, two days later, on Friday, January 15, 2010, she told her supervisor, Defendant Nias, that she was pregnant, that she had “been feeling sick the past weekend,” that she experienced “vomiting and weakness,” that she went to the hospital, and that “the doctor had advised [her] to take bed rest.” Wonasue Dep. 173:7 – 174:12. Plaintiff also testified that she told Ms. Nias that the physician gave her “specific instructions to take bed rest, drink water, . . . not to do any heavy lifting, and stride slowly.”  Id. at 174:18–21. Yet, in the “Fact-Finding Statement” Plaintiff provided for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Office of Unemployment Insurance’s Fact Finding Report, Plaintiff stated that, when she asked to “work from home two days per week” so that she “would not have to be on [her] feet all day,” she “did not indicate any medical restrictions, because at that time [she] did
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