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Ryan v. Best Buy Co. Inc.

September 24, 2009

VANESSA Y. RYAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BEST BUY CO. INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Vanessa Ryan commenced this action by filing a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, alleging that her former employer, Defendant Best Buy Co., Inc., discriminated against her in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. ("ADEA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 et seq. ("ADA"), and the New York State Human Rights Law, as codified in the N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 296 et seq. ("NYSHRL"). Defendant has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1

Plaintiff opposes Defendant's Motion.*fn2 For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The following material facts are undisputed and taken from the parties' declarations, affidavits, exhibits and respective Local Rule 56.1 statements of facts.*fn3 Plaintiff began employment with Best Buy on September 18, 2000, as an Inventory Supervisor. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 1.*fn4 ) At the time, Plaintiff was forty-five years old. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 2.) As the Inventory Supervisor, Ryan supervised six employees, recorded merchandise received by Best Buy into Best Buy's computer system, maintained the condition of the Amherst store's warehouse, and scheduled customer deliveries. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 3.)

During a routine physical in March of 2003, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, and was informed that she needed a liver biopsy. (Ryan Affidavit, Docket No. 22, Pt. 3, ¶ 15; Def.'s Statement, ¶ 6.) On or about March 24, 2003, Plaintiff faxed a handwritten letter to her Sales Manager, Rich Krawalski, stating that she needed some time off from work. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 7; Docket No. 21, Ex. D.*fn5 ) On March 26, 2003, Plaintiff underwent the liver biopsy. (Ryan Aff., Docket No. 22, Pt. 3, ¶ 16.)

In a note dated April 3, 2003, Dr. Rajesh Khamar, M.D., stated that "[Plaintiff] is advised to rest till [sic] 4/13/03." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 8.) Four days later, on April 7, 2003, Dr. Khamar provided Plaintiff with another note, which stated that she should be "off work [from] 3-22-03 to approx. 4/11/03 pending re-evaluation on 4/10/03." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 9.)

While on medical leave due to the biopsy, Plaintiff cut a tendon in the pinky finger of her left hand. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 10.) As a result, Plaintiff went to Excelsior Orthopaedics LLP for minor surgery. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 11.) In a note dated April 11, 2003, a physician from Excelsior Orthopaedics stated that "Pt is out of work from 4-11-03 [to] 5-1-03." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 12.) On April 15, 2003, Plaintiff requested a medical leave of absence from Best Buy for the period dated March 22, 2003, through May 1, 2003, due to her "surgery-liver biopsy". (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 13.)

On April 29, 2003, Plaintiff submitted a letter. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 15.) In the letter, Plaintiff stated that Dr. Paul D. Paterson, M.D., of Excelsior Orthopaedics, would not release her to return to work "until around June 13, 2003." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 15.) Dr. Paterson, in a note dated April 29, 2003, stated that "Pt. is totally temporary disabled pending appt. June 13, 2003." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 16; Docket No. 21, Ex. J.)

Plaintiff returned to work on June 13, 2003. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 17.) On July 18, 2003, Plaintiff was transferred to the lateral position "Loss Prevention Supervisor." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 18.)

In a note dated July 19, 2003, Andrea E. Verrrastro, F.N.P.-C, of Family Care Physicians P.C., stated that she examined Plaintiff, and that there would be "no work [for Plaintiff] until further notice." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 25.) On July 19, 2003, Plaintiff submitted a request for an indefinite medical leave beginning July 19, 2003. (Docket No. 21, Ex. L.) In support of the request, Plaintiff stated that she was suffering from "chronic disease [and] emotional distress." (Docket No. 21, Ex. L.) And in a medical certification dated July 26, 2003, Verrastro stated that Plaintiff was experiencing abnormal liver enzymes, nausea, depression, drowsiness, and other medication complications. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 22; Docket No. 21, Ex. M.) Verrastro stated that Plaintiff was unable to perform work of any kind. (Docket No. 21, Ex. M.)

On August 11, 2003, Verrastro provided Plaintiff with a note, which stated "Pt. evaluated by me today she continues to be fully disabled due to chronic illness [and] labs which reveal low Platelet ct . . . ." (Docket No. 21, Ex. N.)

Plaintiff returned to work in "mid-October." (Docket No. 22, Vanessa Ryan Affidavit, ¶ 23.*fn6 ) But in a note dated October 23, 2003, Dr. Bertrard P. Roche, M.D., stated that "[Plaintiff] is presently disabled. Not to work until further advised." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 27.) Plaintiff then requested another indefinite medical leave of absence to begin on October 24, 2003. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 29.) In connection with the request, Plaintiff submitted a medical certification form, which stated that she was suffering from panic disorder, Hepatitis C, COPD, and pelvic mass. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 34.) The form also noted that Plaintiff would be out indefinitely and that she was unable to perform work of any kind. (Def.'s Statement, ¶¶ 35-36; Docket No. 22, Ex. P.)

Approximately one month later, in a note dated November 26, 2003, Dr. Roche stated that Plaintiff "remains fully disabled until further notice." (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 37.) Plaintiff's request for an indefinite medical leave was approved. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 38.) Plaintiff did not return to work for the remainder of 2003. (Def.'s Statement, ¶ 39.)

Dr. Roche again stated, in a note dated January 28, 2004, that Plaintiff remained fully disabled. (Docket No. 22, Ex. AA.) But, in the same note, Dr. Roche stated that ...


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