323 F.3d 1309 (11th Cir. 2003), 02-12971, Wood v. Green

Docket Nº:02-12971
Citation:323 F.3d 1309
Party Name:MARK WOOD, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CHARLIE GREEN, Clerk of Circuit Court for Lee County, Florida, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:March 13, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 1309

323 F.3d 1309 (11th Cir. 2003)

MARK WOOD, Plaintiff-Appellee,


CHARLIE GREEN, Clerk of Circuit Court for Lee County, Florida, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 02-12971

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

March 13, 2003

Page 1310

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. D. C. Docket No. 00-00546-CV-FTM-29D.


Hala A. Sandrige, Fowler, White, Gillen, Boggs, Villareal & Banker PA, Tampa, FL, for Defendant-Appellant.

Page 1311

James E. Aker, Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, Sarasota, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before DUBINA, HILL and COX, Circuit Judges.

DUBINA, Circuit Judge:

This case involves an appeal from the district court's order denying appellant Charlie Green's (Green's) motion for judgment as a matter of law. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and render.


A. Facts

Appellee Mark Wood (Wood) began working for the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court for Lee County, Florida, in 1974. In 1978, Wood began suffering from cluster headaches. By 1985, Wood's cluster headaches caused him to miss lengthy periods of work and prevented him from accomplishing a substantial portion of his duties. To accommodate Wood's extended absences resulting from the cluster headaches, the Clerk's Office created the new position of Court Coordinator for Wood. Wood's primary duty in his new position was to review new legislation and rules that affected the courts and to establish procedures accordingly. This duty occupied approximately 50% of his time. The remaining 50% of his time was spent working with the supervisors of the court, acting as a sounding board, monitoring court related financial accounts, representing the office on boards and committees, speaking at conferences, handling difficult customers, and disseminating information to the public. When Wood was absent, other people had to do his work, sometimes including the review and analysis of new legislation. Notwithstanding his health problems, however, Wood received favorable yearly evaluations.

Throughout the years, Green, who was Clerk of the Circuit Court for Lee County, Florida, routinely granted Wood discretionary leave when he had exhausted his medical, sick, and vacation leave. In 1995, Wood missed a total of seven weeks of work. He missed significant amounts of work in both 1996 and 1997 as well. In 1998, Wood missed a total of approximately 15 weeks of work due to his cluster headaches. In 1999, Wood's cluster headaches caused him to miss considerable portions of work in January, February, March, July, and August. In the fall of 1999, Wood met with his direct supervisor, Ed Flannery (Flannery), for his annual evaluation. Flannery informed Wood that he would not receive the customary annual pay increase due to his absences from work. Flannery also told Wood that Wood might have to submit weekly doctor's notes if Wood missed additional work.

Shortly thereafter, Wood began experiencing another cluster headache. He requested a discretionary leave of absence without pay until he could return to work. Green approved this leave effective December 2, 1999, with no termination date. Wood subsequently telephoned Green to check in and tell him that he was still suffering from a cluster headache. Green told him not to...

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