121 F.3d 1146 (8th Cir. 1997), 96-3668, Carter v. Ford Motor Co.

Docket Nº:96-3668.
Citation:121 F.3d 1146
Party Name:Wardell CARTER, Appellant, v. FORD MOTOR CO.; David Dunaway, Appellees.
Case Date:July 28, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1146

121 F.3d 1146 (8th Cir. 1997)

Wardell CARTER, Appellant,


FORD MOTOR CO.; David Dunaway, Appellees.

No. 96-3668.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 28, 1997

Submitted May 21, 1997

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Thomas (T.C.) Carter, II, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.

W. Perry Brandt, Kansas City, MO (Jocelyn A. Villanueva, Kansas City, MO, on the brief), for appellee.

Before BEAM, FRIEDMAN, 1 and LOKEN Circuit Judges.

BEAM, Circuit Judge.

Wardell Carter sued Ford Motor Company alleging that in discharging him, Ford violated the Family Medical Leave Act, breached its collective bargaining agreement, intentionally discriminated against him because of his race, and committed various state law torts. The district court 2 granted Ford's motion for summary judgment. Carter appeals and we affirm.


Carter began working for Ford Motor Company in 1988. He was a member of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 325 and the UAW International, and was covered by the union's collective bargaining agreement with Ford. He was discharged on March 3, 1994.

Plaintiff's last day of work was February 15, 1994. The following day, Stephanie Carter, the plaintiff's wife and also a Ford employee, telephoned the plant's labor relations office (LRO) to inform them that she was sick and that she and her husband were going to be "out" because of family problems. Two days later, Carter's doctor diagnosed him as suffering from anxiety and depression and concluded that he was totally disabled. On February 21, Carter called the LRO himself and reported that he would be out sick. When asked what the problem was, Carter stated that "it was personal." When asked when he would return to work, Carter said that he did not know. On February 25, Carter again called the LRO to inform Ford that he was still sick, but did not request medical leave at that time.

That same day, Carter received a "five-day" letter instructing him to report for work or provide a reason justifying his continued absence within five days from the date of the letter. The letter warned that failure to comply would result in Carter's termination. In response, Carter went to the Ford plant on February 28 and informed the LRO representative that he was requesting sick leave. At this time, the LRO representative gave Carter a form for his attending physician to fill out as soon as possible to explain his need for sick leave. Although Carter's physician completed the form on March 2, Carter did not return the form at that time. Carter blames the delay on the LRO representative's alleged assurances that Carter was covered on medical leave and that, therefore, there was no hurry on the paperwork.

Carter claims that on March 2, Stephanie telephoned the LRO to inform them that she would soon deliver her husband's medical papers substantiating his need for medical leave. Stephanie spoke with David Dunaway who allegedly told her that there was no need to bring in the paperwork as Carter had already been fired. Carter alleged that

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because of Dunaway's statement, he did not submit proper medical documentation to justify his absence. On March 3, Ford discharged Carter for failing to satisfy the five-day letter that it claims expired at 12:00 p.m. on March 2. Soon thereafter, Carter contacted his Local 325 to begin the grievance process.

The UAW filed a timely grievance to contest Carter's termination. However, Carter's discharge was found to have been proper under the collective bargaining agreement, a section of which provides that seniority will be broken for failure to reply to a five-day letter. The union appealed the denial of Carter's grievance, but later withdrew the appeal without prejudice. Carter was informed of the withdrawal and told to contact his union representative with any questions regarding the disposition. Carter claims Ford fabricated evidence so that the UAW would withdraw his grievance. He also claims that he was never informed of his right to appeal the withdrawal. He concedes, however, that he neither inquired about an appeals process nor appealed within the allotted time.

Carter filed this action, 3 alleging that in discharging him, Ford: (1) violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by terminating him after he requested extended medical leave due to his illness; (2) breached the Ford-UAW collective bargaining agreement in violation of section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act by not arbitrating his termination in good faith; (3) violated Missouri's service letter statute; and (4) violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 by terminating him based on his race. Carter also alleges that both Ford and Dunaway intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him and fraudulently or negligently misrepresented facts relating to his termination. The district court granted Ford's motion for summary judgment. 4 Carter appeals.



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