Conrad v. Board of Johnson County Com'Rs

Decision Date15 October 2002
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A.00-2277-DJW.,CIV.A.00-2277-DJW.
PartiesHarriet CONRAD, Plaintiff, v. BOARD OF JOHNSON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Kansas

Patrick G. Reavey, Reavey Law LLC, Kansas City, MO, for Harriet Conrad.

Michael M. Shultz, Johnson County Legal Dept., Olathe, KS, for Johnson County Bd. of County Com'r., Johnson County Health Dept.


WAXSE, United States Magistrate Judge.

This is an employment discrimination action in which Plaintiff Harriet Conrad asserts claims against the Board of Johnson County, Kansas Commissioners and the Johnson County Health Department (collectively referred to as "the County"). Plaintiff alleges the County violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA)"1 in three different respects. First, she claims the County subjected her to a fitness for duty evaluation and psychiatric testing in violation of the ADA. Second, she alleges the County discriminated against her on the basis of a perceived disability. Third, she claims the County retaliated against her for engaging in conduct protected by the ADA.

Plaintiff also asserts a claim against the County for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").2 In addition, she asserts three state law claims against the County: breach of implied contract, retaliatory discharge, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), this case has been assigned to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for all further proceedings. The Court issued an Order (doc. 154) on September 30, 2002 summarily granting the County's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 81). This Memorandum and Order will set forth the Court's reasons for granting summary judgment in favor of the County.

I. Facts

In keeping with the standards governing summary judgment, any facts in the parties' briefs not properly supported by the record have not been included in the following statement of facts. In addition, any matters on which the record discloses a genuine dispute of material fact have been construed in Plaintiff's favor. The Court's analysis was made very difficult by both parties' failure to fully comply with D. Kan. Rule 56.1.

After conducting a very time-consuming review of the more than 3,000 pages of materials submitted by the parties, the Court sets forth the following material facts that are uncontroverted, deemed admitted, stipulated to by the parties, or where disputed, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff began her employment with the County in February 1995, and she continued to be employed by the County until her termination on March 15, 1999. She was employed as Prenatal Program Manager and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and worked in the Johnson County Health Department ("Health Department"). Plaintiff is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist.

According to her job description, Plaintiff's primary function was to deliver "advance practice prenatal nursing care" and to provide consultation and education within the technically current standards of practice in order to promote positive pregnancy outcomes for the mother, infant, and family unit, especially among high-risk patients. Plaintiff performed comprehensive physical examinations on pregnant clients in order to assess their health status and the health status of the fetus. In addition, she managed the care of pregnant clients by developing individual, comprehensive plans of care.

The Prenatal Program is contained within the Personal Health Services Division of the Health Department. At all times relevant to this case, the Personal Health Services Division was directed by Martha Hutcheson ("Hutcheson").

Plaintiff reported to Ruth McKenzie ("McKenzie"), who was the Maternal Child Coordinator. McKenzie reported to Hutcheson. Hutcheson, in turn, reported to Debby Sullivan ("Sullivan"), who was the Director of the Health Department.

The parties have stipulated that "[a]ll of the written evaluations in Plaintiff's personnel file show she was meeting or exceeding Defendants' expectations." The most recent evaluation of Plaintiff's job performance was conducted in February 1998. Up until the fall of 1998, Plaintiff either met or exceeded the County's expectations regarding her job performance.

In September 1998, McKenzie counseled Plaintiff about failing to complete sufficient work on protocols for the Prenatal Program, which were required for state accreditation of the program. She also counseled Plaintiff about her inability to stay focused on her work.

On or about November 16, 1998, McKenzie had a conference with Plaintiff and discussed her concerns about whether Plaintiff was properly performing her program manager responsibilities. McKenzie expressed concern that Plaintiff was spending too much time away from the Mission, Kansas office and that Plaintiff's time sheets reflected she was working too many hours. McKenzie asked Plaintiff not to work after hours late into the evening and asked Plaintiff to stay focused on her program manager responsibilities.

In early January 1999, McKenzie gave Plaintiff a note thanking her for a Christmas gift Plaintiff had given her. After thanking her for the gift, McKenzie stated: "It's great to see how the Prenatal Program has grown in numbers this year. Know it has been very challenging for you with staff changes, but you have done a great job."

On or about January 14, 1999, McKenzie learned of complaints from Plaintiff's subordinates that Plaintiff was keeping them from doing their jobs because of the amount of time she spent discussing the work schedule with them.

On January 15, McKenzie counseled Plaintiff about having spent the entire afternoon of January 13 with only one client, which had contributed to a chaotic clinic. McKenzie instructed Plaintiff to stay focused on her job. McKenzie believed Plaintiff was not spending her time on appropriate job duties.

On January 20, Plaintiff called McKenzie at 5:40 p.m. to express her frustration about a co-worker. McKenzie told Plaintiff she should go home and worry about the problem the next day. Plaintiff did not go home, however, and stayed at work until approximately 12:45 a.m.

Shortly before leaving work, Plaintiff sent an e-mail memo to McKenzie and Hutcheson. The e-mail memo contained a lengthy discussion of various problems in the Health Department. The memo was single spaced and approximately four pages long on paper. The memo set forth Plaintiff's concerns about a certain health management issue and then stated:

Please advise, I am quite concerned about this as you can tell. (not mad or blaming anyone just frustrated and needing some answers/questions and I've felt a lot of "shunting" from this person to that person lately has been in large part responsible for the increased number of hours I've had to spend at work lately ensuring that the things happen that need to get done by "somebody" when "nobody" seems to be the one that is "responsible for that". "Its not my job" frequently becomes "Harriet's job" for lack of anyone else accepting the responsibility to do it, find out who can do it, or even offering to help me to do it.

* * * * * *

I cannot keep up this pace and I cannot cut corners when it means possible jeopardizing a client or making an error or oversight)[sic]. I don't want to be a griper or complainer and I thought this was just a temporary thing but it's going on and on and the "to do" pile is growing and growing. It's no one person or program it's a prevailing "poor morale" type feeling like I just want to put in my time [sic] do my little piece of the work and go home at 5pm everyday.

* * * * * *

I feel like a dump, the final dumping ground.

The e-mail concluded with the following: Please hear me that I'm not mad at anyone, blaming anyone individual. It's an unbalance in the system that needs correction but where I don't know. I love the Health Department but I[sic] suffering from exhaustion and chronic fatigue and have too much to do to even call in sick and miss a day.

After sending the e-mail memo at 12:43 a.m., she went home. At 9:30 that morning, Plaintiff sent another e-mail memo, this one to the entire staff of the Health Department. The "subject line" of the memo read "freedom." The body of the memo read as follows:

On behalf of every wonderful, caring, dedicated servant of the people at the JCHD (includes everyone, without exception!) and as a gift to Denise Brennan and Ellen Rangel for their combined years of service. I am asking the "force" to release everyone of us from the "chains that bind" and "the walls that keep our Spirits apart."

We NEED each other to reach our shared vision, "health at the Highest Level". A vision we can attain if we are all free to do our personal best.

I believe that we have all the talent, skill, and ability we need to attain this vision! However, it remains "out of our reach" until we ALL as one "release the chains" and "tear down the walls." THE "force" THAT KEEPS U.S. APART, IS ACTUALLY LIKE THE "EMPERORS NEW CLOTHES". THERE'S REALLY NOTHING THERE! WE JUST IMAGINE THERE IS UNTIL IT BECOMES A BELIEF!

When we let go of this belief (the chains) we will be FREE at last to begin to realize our shared dream. We must each accept the reality that no matter how hard we each try in our separate ways, we can not and will not make it happen.

YET! United as ONE we are strong enough to "break down the walls".

SIMPLY, BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As ONE, united, together, close your eyes and tell yourself, "I AM WONDERFUL! WALLS COME DOWN!!!!!!

Do it mostly for yourself, but also in recognition of these 2 "faithful" and "dedicated" one...

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