143 F.3d 1160 (8th Cir. 1998), 97-3575, Mathews v. Trilogy Communications, Inc.

Docket Nº:97-3575.
Citation:143 F.3d 1160
Party Name:Harold W. MATHEWS, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TRILOGY COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:May 14, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1160

143 F.3d 1160 (8th Cir. 1998)

Harold W. MATHEWS, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant,



No. 97-3575.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 14, 1998

Submitted March 9, 1998.

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Scott A. McCreight, Kansas City, MO, argued (Steven M. Springer and G. Brian Weiler, on the brief), for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Armin J. Moeller, Jr., Jackson, MS, argued (David M. Thomas, James G. Baker and Eric Smith, on the brief), for Defendant-Appellee.

Before BOWMAN and MORRIS SHEPPARD ARNOLD, Circuit Judges, and MONTGOMERY, District Judge. 1

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MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

Harold J. Mathews, Jr. ("Mathews"), sued Trilogy Communications, Inc. ("Trilogy") under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"), Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 213.010 et seq., and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1140 ("Section 510"), alleging that Trilogy terminated him because he suffers from diabetes and the company did not want to continue paying his diabetes-related health care expenses through its self-insured medical plan. The district court 2 granted Trilogy's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Mathews failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA and MHRA, or a prima facie case of retaliation under Section 510 of ERISA. Mathews appeals from the judgment, and we affirm.


Viewed in the light most favorable to Mathews, the record reveals the following facts. Mathews is an insulin-dependent diabetic. He began working for Trilogy as a traveling sales representative in August 1992. During the first three months he worked for the company, Mathews had three diabetic attacks in the presence of other Trilogy employees. On two of the occasions he lost consciousness and required hospitalization. Following Mathews' third attack in October 1992, Trilogy's Human Resources Manager, Doug Kelly, became concerned about Mathews' diabetic condition and the possibility of an a diabetic episode while with a client. Thus, Kelly met with Mathews to determine what, if anything, Trilogy could do to help him better control his condition. At the meeting, Mathews insisted that his condition was not a problem and that he would have no further diabetic episodes as he could sense when they were coming on and take the necessary preventative measures. Although he has difficulty recalling the specifics of what Kelly said, Mathews claims to have left the meeting with the distinct impression that Trilogy would be watching him and "that the company would view [another diabetic episode] as a possibility for dismissal."

Mathews continued in his employment without another diabetic attack for almost two years and received favorable performance reviews from Trilogy in both August 1993 and August 1994. In September 1994, Mathews' supervisor, Neil Brasfield, attended a meeting in Kansas City, Missouri with Mathews and a prospective client. Mathews' unusual behavior while the two were together--high strung and easily excited one evening then very subdued to the point of not paying attention the next morning--led Brasfield to question whether Mathews was properly monitoring his medication. Brasfield memorialized his observations in a memo to Kelly, who in turn consulted with Mathews' physician, Dr. Mark Schroeder. Dr. Schroeder indicated that Mathews was taking his medication as directed and there was no reason for concern over his health. Given Dr. Schroeder's assurances, Kelly took no further action. Neither Kelly nor Brasfield were aware of any other diabetic episodes Mathews experienced prior to his termination in August 1995.

In February 1995, Trilogy entered into a contract with a new insurance carrier, Chandler Sampson Insurance, Inc. ("Chandler Sampson"). Shortly thereafter, Chandler Sampson requested driving records of the employees covered by the new policy. Mathews' record revealed that he had been ticketed for speeding on June 30, 1993, and March 18, 1994, and that his driver's license had been suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol on June 22, 1993. The record also showed that Mathews' license had not been reinstated until June 15, 1994. Based on its review of the employees' records, Chandler Sampson notified Trilogy that Mathews and three other employees had problem driving records. In July 1995, Chandler Sampson informed Trilogy that it planned to monitor Mathews and another employee, and that they would be excluded from coverage for any additional driving violations.

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Meanwhile, Mathews suffered another diabetic incident at his home on June 6, 1995. Mathews passed out, broke his leg in the fall, and was hospitalized for six days. The medical bills related to this incident were $15,000. Trilogy maintains a self-insured health plan for its employees; therefore, less a $100 deductible, Trilogy paid Mathews' medical bills in their entirety. Mathews did not tell anyone at the company that the incident was related to his diabetic condition. Instead, Mathews told Brasfield that he had tripped over some clutter in his house. There is no evidence in the record that anyone at Trilogy knew Mathews' broken leg was the result of a diabetic attack.

On August 14, 1995, Chandler Sampson checked Mathews' driving record again and discovered that he had received another speeding violation on April 13, 1995. Thus, the insurance company excluded Mathews from further coverage under Trilogy's policy. On August 15, 1995, Brasfield contacted Mathews by phone to inform him that he was no longer covered by the company's insurance carrier and that he was not to drive the company vehicle or his personal vehicle on company business until other arrangements for insurance coverage could be made. Brasfield also told Mathews that if he could verify the amount of his personal insurance coverage, Trilogy might consider using Mathews' personal insurance policy assuming it met all the legal requirements. Mathews failed to offer any proof of personal insurance, and it was later decided that having an employee use his or her personal insurance would be both unworkable and not in the company's best interest.

On August 17, 1995, Brasfield sent a memo to Mathews outlining a possible discrepancy on his motor vehicle record regarding his driving privileges. According to the record, Brasfield noted that Mathews had received an administrative suspension for driving under the influence of alcohol on June 22, 1993. Although the record reflected that the end date of the suspension was September 20, 1993, Mathews' license was not reinstated until June 15, 1994. Brasfield requested that Mathews compare this information with his own records and provide management with some documentation if the information was incorrect. Mathews denied incurring the violations but he was unable to provide management with evidence that the motor vehicle record was inaccurate. 3

On August 18, 1995, Jim Wonn, Trilogy's Vice President of Domestic Operations, notified Kelly that after reviewing Mathews' driving records he had concluded that Mathews had demonstrated a pattern of unsafe driving; had given management false explanations for his various violations; 4 had put Trilogy at risk because he was uninsurable; and had operated a company car without a proper driver's license. Accordingly, Wonn directed Kelly to terminate Mathews immediately. Kelly and Brasfield notified Mathews of his termination by telephone that same afternoon.


We review the district court's entry of summary judgment de novo. Price v. S-B Power Tool, 75 F.3d 362, 364 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 274, 136 L.Ed.2d 197 (1996). Summary judgment is proper when the record reveals "no genuine issue as to any material fact ... and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, we must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party and refrain from assessing credibility. Miller v. Nat'l Cas. Co., 61 F.3d 627, 628 (8th Cir.1995).

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The non-moving party, however, may not simply rest upon the pleadings, but must point to evidence in the record sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a qualified individual because of a disability. See 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). To make out a prima facie case of disability discrimination under the ADA, Mathews needed to establish the following: 1) he was a disabled person within the meaning of the ADA; 2) he was qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation; and 3) he suffered an adverse employment action under circumstances from which an inference of unlawful discrimination arises. Aucutt v. Six Flags Over Mid-America, Inc., 85 F.3d 1311,...

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