Criscitello v. MHM Services, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112470 (M.D. Pa., 8/9/13)

Plaintiff’s failure to seek treatment for her alleged serious medical condition required dismissal of her FMLA claims.

The plaintiff alleged that her former employer interfered with her rights pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act when it denied her FMLA leave and retaliated against her when it terminated her employment. The plaintiff alleged that she suffered from a serious health condition for which she was receiving ongoing medical treatment. Specifically, she alleged that—although she was neither a doctor nor a nurse practitioner at the time—she diagnosed herself with anxiety and depression in October 2008 and requested FMLA leave on three occasions during this month. She alleged that her leave requests were denied and her employment was thereafter terminated. The plaintiff did not receive any medical treatment at the time she allegedly requested FMLA leave. Rather, she first sought treatment more than one month after her alleged leave, and her doctor never diagnosed her with the anxiety and depression that she premised her FMLA leave request upon. In rejecting her claim, the court noted that “a serious health condition must exist at the time leave is requested.” In so holding, the court rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that she intended to seek medical treatment, noting that the “[p]laintiff has pointed to no case law, and the court is unaware of any, that has found a serious medical condition to exist upon the bare assertion of [an] employee’s intent to seek medical treatment.” Notwithstanding the fundamental flaws of the plaintiff’s FMLA claim, the court further determined that the plaintiff’s failure to return to see her doctor “leads this court to the conclusion that no continuing treatment took place.” Accordingly, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim and held that the plaintiff’s failure to sustain an interference claim “compels the logical conclusion that she cannot make out a prima facie case for retaliation.”

Case Law Alert, 4th Quarter 2013