Johnston v. Henderson, No. 00-6445CIV.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
Writing for the CourtJohnson
Citation144 F.Supp.2d 1341
PartiesJuanita JOHNSTON, Plaintiff, v. William J. HENDERSON, as Postmaster General of the United States, Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. 00-6445CIV.
Decision Date01 May 2001
144 F.Supp.2d 1341
Juanita JOHNSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
William J. HENDERSON, as Postmaster General of the United States, Defendant.
No. 00-6445CIV.
United States District Court, S.D. Florida.
May 1, 2001.

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Stewart Lee Karlin, Stewart Lee Karlin, Fort Lauderdale, FL, for Juanita Johnston, plaintiffs.

Jeffrey R. Levenson, AUSA, United States Attorney's Office, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Stephanie Webster, U.S. Postal Service, Law Dept., Atlanta, GA, for United States Post Master General, William Henderson, Post Master General of the United States Postal Service Agency, defendants.

ORDER GRANTING FINAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, ENTERING FINAL JUDGMENT AGAINST PLAINTIFF, AND CLOSING CASE

JOHNSON, United States Chief Magistrate Judge.


THIS CAUSE is before the Court on Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (D.E.# 22). This matter was referred to this Court by the Honorable William P. Dimitrouleas, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, after the parties consented to trial before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. In view of said consent, the above-stated motion shall be disposed of by order rather than by report and recommendation. For the following reasons Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Juanita Johnston ("Johnston" or "Plaintiff") has filed the instant action against her employer William J. Henderson, Postmaster General of the United States ("Defendant") alleging disability discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq. Specifically, Johnston contends she has been discriminated against and subjected to a hostile environment based on her alleged disability, post traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), and has been retaliated against for participating in protected

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activity (filing numerous EEO complaints) and for pursuing worker's compensation benefits.

II. UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

The following facts are pertinent to the resolution of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and generally undisputed. Where there is any discrepancy in the record, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, in this case the Plaintiff.

1. Plaintiff Juanita E. Johnston has been employed by the U.S. Postal Service since April 22, 1991. She began her employment as a clerk (Flat Sorter Machine ["FSM"] Operator) at the South Florida Processing and Distribution Center ("P & DC") in Pembroke Pines, Florida. She now works in a limited duty position in "revenue protection", which involves the processing of mail that lacks the proper postage. Her limited duty is the result of an on-the-job shoulder injury which occurred in January, 1998. Plaintiff's Depo. I, pp. 67, 154-155.1 The acts of discrimination complained of by Johnston arise from an incident that occurred on November 20, 1998. On that date, another clerk at the P & DC, Debra Adams, found an unaddressed envelope with the words "Happy Holiday postal employee" on the front, and "just been exposed to anthrax" on the back. Ex. 1 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Ms. Adams delivered the envelope to her supervisor, Patrick Keough. Adams depo. p. 5. Johnston never touched the subject envelope, although she testified at her Office of Worker Compensation Program (OWCP) hearing and in her deposition that she saw the co-worker holding the envelope. Plaintiff's Depo. I, p. 71; Adams Depo., p. 11.

2. The Postal Inspection Service, FBI, and a Hazard-Materials Team responded to the P & DC. Within five hours it was determined that the envelope actually did not contain anthrax virus, and all employees were so advised. Plaintiff's Depo. I, p. 104.

3. Based on the above incident, Johnston filed a CA-1 form, Federal Employee's Notice, Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation on November 21, 1998 (Ex. 1 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, pp. 5-8) and stopped working on November 24, 1998. On said CA-1 form Johnston stated the cause of the injury as follows: "The finding of a letter with Anthrax. The potential of being exposed to anthrax and the nonaction of management causing excessive stress and anxiety (sic), potential exposure to anthrax, headache (sic), flushing, fatigue, emotional drain." Id. at 5 Johnston was seen on November 21, 1998 by a physician at Memorial West Hospital who indicated the history of the injury as "she was stressed out yesterday at work when headache started." Id. at 8. The physician noted that no hospitalization was required and anticipated that no permanent effects would result from the incident. Id.

4. By Notice of Decision dated January 27, 1999, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") denied Johnston's OWCP claim for the above injury. Ex. 2 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, pp. 1-2. The DOL found that "the medical evidence was not sufficient to establish that [Johnston's]

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condition was caused by the event, as required by the Federal Employee's Compensation Act." In its Notice of Decision, the DOL informed Johnston that the Postal Service "will charge the previously paid Continuation of Pay ("COP") to [Johnston's] sick and/or annual leave balance" and if she didn't have a leave balance "the money already paid as COP will be deemed an overpayment within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. § 5584." Id. at 2.

5. Based on the denial of her OWCP claim, Johnston requested and received a hearing before the DOL on July 20, 1999. This hearing resulted in a reversal of the district office's denial of Johnston's claim. Ex. 3 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. The hearing representative concluded that Johnston's claim for post traumatic stress reaction should be accepted and appropriate compensation benefits should be paid.

6. Johnston was absent from work due to the alleged post traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") and the anthrax virus scare for more than four months from November 24, 1998, through April 5, 1999. Plaintiff's Depo. I, pp. 144,26. She returned to work initially in a limited/light duty status with the following restrictions per Sherrie Lewis-Thomas, Ph.D.: "Limited exposure to conflict, stress, and to exposure to dangerous situations (i.e. explosive customers)." Interestingly, by a note dated April 12, 1999, Johnston requested to be placed on the overtime list, even though she was at that time restricted from overtime by her health care providers. Ex. 4 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; Plaintiff's Depo. I, pp. 144-145.

7. Effective September 7, 1999 and continuing to the present, Johnston was placed in a limited duty assignment due to a shoulder injury that occurred spontaneously on January 10, 1998 while casing or sorting the mail, "all of a sudden I (Plaintiff) couldn't raise my hand anymore..." Plaintiff's Depo. I pp. 59-60. In this most recent limited duty assignment, Johnston works in the revenue protection position. Johnston has remained on limited duty ever since her return to work following her absence due to PTSD. Id. at 143.

8. Johnston filed her first EEO Complaint of Discrimination five months after beginning employment with the Postal Service. Since that time, she has filed an additional thirty-two (32) EEO complaints. Ex. 10 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, ¶ 11. Of those claims, six (6) are relevant to the claims asserted in this action. The relevant EEO cases are summarized below.

(a) EEO Agency Case Number 1-H-333-0026-99. This EEO case is relevant to allegations in Johnston's Complaint, paragraph 14, subparagraph a. In this EEO complaint, Johnston alleged that she was discriminated against and harassed when she received unsigned, incomplete insurance forms from the OWCP office that delayed her benefits. Johnston asserted discrimination based on race (Hispanic), sex (female), national origin (Belyea), age (42), physical disability (stress), and retaliation. Ex. 5 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, pp. 1,4. The Postal Service issued a Final Agency Decision ("FAD") dated June 17, 1999 dismissing this EEO complaint pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a) for failure to state a claim. Ex. 5 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, pp. 5-6. The FAD was received by Johnston on June 22, 1999. Id. at 8. The Complaint in the instant case was filed on March 30, 2000, more than 285 days after Johnston received the Final Agency Decision in the above EEO case. Docket Entry No. 1.

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(b) EEO Agency Case Number 1-H-333-0022-99. This EEO case is relevant to allegations in Johnston's Complaint, paragraph 14, subparagraphs b and c. Plaintiff's Depo. II, pp. 18-19, 32. In this complaint, Johnston alleges that the Postal Service deliberately altered her OWCP documents after they had been approved by the agency in order to discriminate against her and prevent her from receiving benefits. Johnston asserted discrimination based on race (Hispanic), sex (female), national origin (Belyea), age (42), physical disability (stress), and retaliation. Ex. 1 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 9; Plaintiff's Depo. II, pp. 18-19, 32.

(c) EEO Agency Case Number 1-H-333-0013-00. This EEO case is relevant to allegations in Johnston's Complaint, paragraph 14, subparagraph e. In this case, Johnston alleged that on January 22, 2000, she requested and received her unemployment benefits file and found a copy of her forms CA-20 and CA-17. These documents allegedly contained medical diagnosis and prognosis in the file. In this case, Johnston claimed discrimination based on race (Hispanic), religion (Catholic), national origin, mental disability (PTSD), and retaliation. Ex. 8 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 1. Johnston filed this formal complaint on March 15, 2000, within the fifteen day limit. Ex. 8 to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 4. On March 30, 2000, Johnston...

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22 practice notes
  • Wade v. Donahoe, CIVIL ACTION NO. 11-3795
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • September 4, 2012
    ...hiring an attorney to assist with the processing of a FECA claim is not a protected activity under Title VII. Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F. Supp. 2d 1341, 1354 n.5 (S.D. Fla. 2001). Wade has alleged no facts showing that there was a pattern of antagonism against her in the period between he......
  • McCloud v. Potter, Civil Action No. 06-0216-BH-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • May 10, 2007
    ...of Southern Ill. Univ., 207 F.3d 938, 941-42 (7th Cir.2000). The same test applies under the Rehabilitation Act. Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1355 n. 6 (S.D.Fla.2001), aff'd, 277 F.3d 1380 (11th Cir.2001). McCloud alleged her employer retaliated against her under the Rehabilit......
  • Del Valle v. Sanchez, No. 99-0049-CIV.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • September 25, 2001
    ...but such determinations are not proper for a judge to make when considering evidence on summary judgment. See Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1347 (S.D.Fla.2001) (citations...
  • Allocco v. City of Coral Gables, No. 99-2443-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • August 23, 2002
    ...In any event, Allocco cannot supplement or contradict his deposition testimony by a self-serving affidavit. See Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1360 (S.D.Fla.2001) (granting defendant's motion for summary judgment because plaintiff's self-serving, conelusory affidavits failed to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Wade v. Donahoe, CIVIL ACTION NO. 11-3795
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • September 4, 2012
    ...hiring an attorney to assist with the processing of a FECA claim is not a protected activity under Title VII. Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F. Supp. 2d 1341, 1354 n.5 (S.D. Fla. 2001). Wade has alleged no facts showing that there was a pattern of antagonism against her in the period between he......
  • McCloud v. Potter, Civil Action No. 06-0216-BH-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • May 10, 2007
    ...of Southern Ill. Univ., 207 F.3d 938, 941-42 (7th Cir.2000). The same test applies under the Rehabilitation Act. Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1355 n. 6 (S.D.Fla.2001), aff'd, 277 F.3d 1380 (11th Cir.2001). McCloud alleged her employer retaliated against her under the Rehabilit......
  • Del Valle v. Sanchez, No. 99-0049-CIV.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • September 25, 2001
    ...but such determinations are not proper for a judge to make when considering evidence on summary judgment. See Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1347 (S.D.Fla.2001) (citations...
  • Allocco v. City of Coral Gables, No. 99-2443-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • August 23, 2002
    ...In any event, Allocco cannot supplement or contradict his deposition testimony by a self-serving affidavit. See Johnston v. Henderson, 144 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1360 (S.D.Fla.2001) (granting defendant's motion for summary judgment because plaintiff's self-serving, conelusory affidavits failed to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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