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Askew v. Meridian Imaging Solutions

March 4, 2009

GINA ASKEW, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MERIDIAN IMAGING SOLUTIONS, INC. D/B/A MERIDIAN IMAGING SOLUTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Robertson United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Gina Askew sues her former employer Meridian Imaging Solutions, Inc., and several of the company's employees and shareholders, alleging that she was treated poorly, and eventually fired, because of her efforts to seek medical treatment and to utilize available worker's compensation laws after suffering an on-the-job injury. Her claims are for retaliatory termination after she revealed her intent to file a worker's compensation claim, invasion of privacy (a Meridian employee allegedly remained in the examination room when the plaintiff was examined by a doctor), and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defense has filed for summary judgment as to the first count, [Dkt. #7], and for judgment on the pleadings as to counts two and three, [Dkt. #9]. For the reasons set forth in this memorandum, those motions will be granted.

Motion to Dismiss

A motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. § 12(c) may be granted when the movant shows that "no material fact is in dispute and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Khadr v. Bush, ---F.Supp.2d ----, 2008 WL 4966523 *2 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Peters v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 966 F.2d 1483, 1485 (D.C.Cir. 1992); Fed.R.Civ.P. §§ 12(c) and 56(c). When evaluating a motion under Rule 12(c) the court will accept as true and accord reasonable inferences to the allegations made in the non-movant's pleadings. Schuchart v. La Taberna Del Alabardero, Inc., 365 F.3d 33, 34 (D.C. Cir. 2004); Haynesworth v. Miller, 820 F.2d 1245, 1249 fn. 11 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

The Complaint

The following allegations of fact are taken as true for purposes of this motion: The plaintiff was hired in June 2007 to work as a dispatch operator in Meridian's Alexandria, Virginia, location. One month later, she was transferred to work as a facilities administrator at Meridian's facility at 18th Street, N.W. in the District of Columbia, which provides copying services for the American Red Cross. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 12. In late December 2007, she fell from a chair while reaching for a Post-it note. Id. ¶ 14. She called Kristan Dixon, Meridian's human resources director, to tell her about the accident. Dixon told her to go to the emergency room, and that the expenses were covered by workman's compensation. Id. ¶ 17. When the hospital would not process the plaintiff for examination without certain payment information she used her own insurance. Id. ¶ 19. She was eventually discharged and told to go to an orthopedist. Id.

¶¶ 20-21.

Dixon assured the plaintiff that she would provide the appropriate worker's compensation paperwork so that the plaintiff could set up an appointment with an orthopedist, but she failed to do so twice, both times within a week of the plaintiff's injury. Id. ¶¶ 22, 23. The plaintiff proceeded to set up an appointment with the orthopedist herself, using her personal insurance. Id. ¶ 23. When Dixon found out that the plaintiff had used her own insurance, her reaction was to tell the plaintiff that she had only a slight strain, id. ¶ 26, and then a few days later to require the plaintiff to cancel the appointment and reschedule with a doctor approved by the worker's compensation company. Id. ¶ 28. The plaintiff balked at the delay, claiming that she was in severe physical pain. Id. ¶ 28. Dixon suggested that the plaintiff go back to the emergency room. The plaintiff again requested via email the worker's compensation information, but Dixon did not respond. Id. ¶ 30.

Later that same day, the plaintiff's workplace was changed. She was transferred to Meridian's facility on 2025 E Street N.W., in D.C., which also provided copy services to the Red Cross. Id. ¶ 29.

The next day the plaintiff went to the emergency room, id. ¶ 31, and the day after that she was told to report to Meridian's Alexandria, Va. office. There Dixon told the plaintiff that she "has no rights, that the decisions were those of the insurance company, that she could contact the Worker's Compensation Board in Richmond, VA if she had any questions," and that Dixon had called the orthopedist with whom the plaintiff had made an appointment, Dr. Koenig, to say that Meridian would not pay for the visit. Id. ¶ 33. When the plaintiff insisted on seeing Koenig, Dixon suggested three doctors approved by the worker's compensation insurance company, made an appointment for the plaintiff at a Dr. Alexander's office, id. ¶ 34, drove the plaintiff to the appointment, and filled out the appropriate paperwork, id. ¶ 35. Dr. Alexander examined the plaintiff and diagnosed her with an "impacted" collarbone. Id. ¶¶ 35-36.

The plaintiff followed Dixon's suggestion that she call the Worker's Compensation Board, and learned that she could get a referral from Alexander to Koenig. Id. ¶ 37. She made an appointment with Koenig, id. ¶ 38, and secured the referral from Dr. Alexander, id. ¶ 41, but she told nobody where she was when she went to this appointment, to prevent obstruction by others of her medical care. Id. ¶ 43.

Dixon informed the plaintiff that she could make appointments with a physical therapist, as recommended by Dr. Alexander, for workdays after 3 P.M., and that she could go home afterward. Id. ¶ 39. The therapist could not always accommodate that schedule, so the plaintiff scheduled some appointments in the morning, and others back-to-back. Id. at ¶ 44. When Dixon found out about the appointments before 3 P.M., she called the therapist to reschedule them. Id. ¶ 45. As a result of this "meddling" the therapist would not schedule any new appointments, and as a consequence the plaintiff did not receive therapy for six weeks. Id. ¶ 46.

Dixon wrote up the defendant for being late to work, for not reporting to work after her therapy, and for unauthorized time out of the office (relating to her appointment with Koenig), id. ¶ 48. Over the course of the next month, Dixon "continually hounded and harassed the plaintiff regarding time and attendance as well as accountability issues," id. ¶ 50, and eventually wrote her up for these infractions too, id. ¶ 51.

In February 2008, Dr. Alexander set up a functional capability evaluation (FCE) test, id. ¶ 49, which the plaintiff took in March, id. ¶ 50. Afterwards, Dixon approached the plaintiff and asked why she had taken the test, stating that Dr. Alexander had said that it was cancelled. Id. ¶ 53. Later that month, Dixon again drove the plaintiff to an appointment with Dr. Alexander, where the doctor confirmed that the FCE test had not been ...


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