United States District Court, D. Oregon
A. CRISPIN ASHLEY A, MARTON Crispin Employment Lawyers
Attorneys for Plaintiff.
M. BARRETT KELLY S. RIGGS Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak
& Stewart, P.C. Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Liberty Mutual
Insurance Company's Motion (#24) for Summary Judgment.
The Court concludes the record is sufficiently developed,
and, therefore, oral argument is unnecessary.
reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS
following facts are taken from the Joint Statement of Agreed
Facts (#44), pleadings, and summary-judgment materials filed
by the parties and are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.
Plaintiff Valerie Hoppman began working for Safeco as a
Senior Claims Representative. In 2006 Plaintiff began working
for Safeco remotely from home Monday through Friday from 8:00
a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In 2009 Safeco was acquired by Defendant.
Plaintiff continued working as a Complex Claims Resolution
Specialist for Defendant. Plaintiff also continued to work
remotely from home and was assigned to a team of claims
representatives. Plaintiff reported to a Claims Team Manager
who provided direction primarily by telephone or email.
November 2014 Plaintiff contends she began feeling
“overwhelmed” with the amount of work she was
expected to complete. Plaintiff alleges she contacted Cary
Henspeter, her supervisor at that time, and told Henspeter
about her anxiety and stress.
December 2014 Plaintiff took medical leave for a low-back
January 19, 2015, Plaintiff's treating physician,
Kristina Harp, M.D., signed a medical note indicating
Plaintiff was able to return to work on February 1, 2015, and
“may work 8 [hours a] day with scheduled breaks.”
February 2015 Plaintiff returned to work. Plaintiff contends
when she returned to work she advised Henspeter of her work
restrictions, i.e., that she was only permitted to
work up to 40 hours per week with scheduled breaks. Henspeter
does not recall receiving Dr. Harper's note or otherwise
learning that Plaintiff had any work restrictions.
2015 Plaintiff was transferred to a new Claims Team Manager,
Donna Fromm. Although Fromm was aware of Plaintiff's
prior medical leave, Defendant contends Fromm was not aware
of Plaintiff having any work restrictions at that time and
Plaintiff does not recall telling Fromm about her 40-hour
September 11, 2015, Fromm counseled Plaintiff about a
“rush” request for a settlement amount that was
in excess of Fromm's settlement authority. Plaintiff
Thanks. I am trying to keep up the best I can. There is just
too much work and not enough time. When I returned to work,
my doctors said it was ok to work up to 40 hours a week with
scheduled breaks. Well, my workload demands are far in excess
of 40 hours a week. I don't know what the solution is,
but this situation is pretty discouraging.
October 8, 2015, Plaintiff again emailed Fromm about her
workload and asked to be “taken off claims” for
two weeks. Fromm complied with Plaintiff's request and
did not assign any new claims to her during that time.
Plaintiff's email on October 8, 2015, Plaintiff had only
general conversations with Fromm about her work.
October 22, 2015, Dr. Harp took Plaintiff off work “due
to medical issues” from October 23, 2015, through
November 22, 2015.
October 25, 2015, Plaintiff applied for short-term disability
benefits through Defendant's disability plan administered
by Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Life).
Plaintiff's request was approved, and she received
short-term disability benefits from October 25, 2016, through
this medical leave Plaintiff periodically reported to Fromm
that her doctor had not released her to return to work. The
parties agree Plaintiff made those reports on November 20,
2015; December 7, 2015; December 31, 2015; January 29, 2016;
and February 29, 2016.
December 7, 2015, Plaintiff sent an email to Laurie Whalen, a
Leave Associate in Defendant's Human Resources Support
Center, and copied Fromm on the email. Plaintiff stated:
“I am requesting accommodations regarding my job duties
under the ADA due to depression which has been diagnosed by
my doctor. The medical records have already been
provided.” The parties agree this was a request for
accommodation. Whalen advised Plaintiff to contact Allyson
Jay, an Employee Relations Specialist for Defendant,
regarding “the option for an ADA.”
December 9, 2015, Plaintiff contacted Jay about the December
7, 2015, request and Jay responded:
It is my understanding that you currently are out on a
pending STD [short term disability] claim? Do you have an
anticipated return to work date? Certainly we are open to
talking through what would help you performance
[sic] the functions of your role as a Claims
Specialist once you are able to return to work but first and
foremost we want you to be well while out ...