Sixth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Mich. Hospital Case, Dismissing Novel ADA Claim

On Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Trinity Health-Michigan in the case Post v. Trinity Health-Michigan.

According to the opinion, Trinity Health-Michigan operates St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, a hospital located outside Detroit, Michigan that employed Rachel Post from 1980 until 2013. In 2013, St. Joseph’s outsourced its anaesthesiology services to the Wayne State University Physician Group causing Rachel Post to be employed by the University Physician Group while she continued to work as an anesthetist in St. Joseph’s anesthesiology department.

The court states that Post continued work for the University Physician Group until October 28, 2016, when she suffered a head injury while at St. Joseph. Due to her injuries, Post suffered post-concussion syndrome requiring her to take a leave of absence and undergo significant rehabilitation. The opinion states that Post gradually returned to work under certain restrictions in March 2017.

Shortly after Post returned to work, she began the process to renew her credentials with St. Joseph by requesting that the chair of the St. Joseph’s anesthesiology department, who was also a University Physician Group employee, signed a required form. The credentials were a requirement of Post’s employment and needed to be renewed every two years. The opinion states that the department chair refused to sign the form because of Post’s leave of absence from the group. Post was terminated from the University Physician Group in October 2017. 

The court states that the University Physician Group later filed for bankruptcy, and Post asserted a claim in its bankruptcy case alleging that the group had engaged in age and disability  discrimination through her termination. The bankruptcy court disallowed Post’s claim resulting in Post sueing St. Joseph, claiming it had interfered with her right to reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and it conspired with the University Physician Group to deprive her of her ADA employment rights. 

The Eastern District of Michigan ultimately granted summary judgment to St. Joseph, and Post appealed to the Sixth Circuit for its current review. The court notes that since the University Physician Group employed Post, her claims are not under the laws that regulate employer’s actions. Rather, her claims are based on the interference provision in the ADA and the civil-conspiracy provision in the Civil Rights Act of 1871 which she argues are broad enough to regulate the conduct of third parties to the employment relationship. 

However, the court was ultimately not persuaded by her claims that these statutes regulate third parties. The opinion states that Post’s ADA claim is a novel question, but held that a nearby remedial subsection and cross references within the ADA makes it clear that Post’s particular type of claim can only be brought against an employer. Further, the court affirmed the the district court’s decision as to the conspiracy claim holding that precedent states that disability discrimination does not fall within the civil-conspiracy provision in the Civil Rights Act of 187.

Therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment thus dismissing the case. Post was represented by Gasiorek Morgan, and Trinity Health-Michigan was represented by Clark Hill.