Lovelace et al v. Washington University School of Medicine et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Washington University's Motion for Summary Judgment 35 is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Barnes-Jewish Hospital's Motion for Summary Judgment 41 is GRANTED.. Signed by District Judge Rodney W. Sippel on 11/22/17. (LGK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
SANDRA LOVELACE and
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE and
Case No. 4:15 CV 1694 RWS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Sandra Lovelace (“Lovelace”) alleges that Defendants Washington
University School of Medicine (“University”) and Barnes-Jewish Hospital (“BJH”)
(collectively, “Defendants”) impermissibly retaliated against her under the Family
and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”).
Plaintiff Stephen Lovelace (“Mr. Lovelace”) submits an accompanying loss of
consortium claim. University and BJH submitted motions for summary judgment.
Based upon a review of the record before the court, I will enter summary judgment
in Defendants’ favor.
Plaintiffs Sandra and Stephen Lovelace (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) present
several claims against Defendants. Lovelace alleges that University, her formal
employer, improperly retaliated against her under FMLA for taking FMLA leave
and under MHRA for complaining about being labeled as a racist and complaining
about disability accommodations. Lovelace also pursues FMLA and MHRA
retaliation claims against BJH based upon a joint employer theory. Lovelace
voluntarily dismissed with prejudice her tortious interference with business
expectancy and defamation claims against BJH. Mr. Lovelace brings an
accompanying claim for loss of consortium.
The following facts in this matter are undisputed. Lovelace was employed
as a Medical Assistant (“MA”) by University in its Division of Medical Oncology
from November 2003 until she was terminated on August 5, 2015. Generally,
MAs perform hospital support tasks such as scheduling, answering phones, and
placing orders. MAs may be assigned to assist a particular doctor’s clinical team
or “float” among different clinical teams. Lovelace worked for the clinical team of
Dr. Nancy Bartlett from November 2003 until 2007 and for the clinical team of Dr.
Steven Sorscher from 2007 until December 2014. From December 2014 until her
termination, Lovelace did not have a specific permanent team assignment. Clinical
nurse manager Paula Goldberg (“Goldberg”), an employee of BJH, supervised
Lovelace from 2007 until Lovelace’s employment ended. Dee Brinkley
(“Brinkley”), an employee of the University, was promoted to MA supervisor in
September 2014, and also supervised Lovelace. Lovelace took FMLA leave twice,
first in 2009 and most recently in 2014. Although the record includes references to
Lovelace’s prior performance, this dispute focuses upon a series of events
occurring in 2014 and 2015.
On December 10, 2014, Lovelace was temporarily assigned to work with Dr.
Douglas Adkins’ team. That day, Lovelace left early because she was
experiencing back pain. Lovelace was absent for several days. On December 16,
2014, Goldberg emailed Lovelace to suggest that she might need FMLA
paperwork, copying the University payroll department for assistance. On
December 31, 2014, Lovelace applied for FMLA leave, which the University
granted. Lovelace periodically provided Goldberg with status updates during her
leave. Although Lovelace initially planned to return from leave on February 9,
2015, she emailed Goldberg that morning to let her know that she would not in fact
be able to return that day. Goldberg, Brinkley, and lead charge nurse Jodi Thole
communicated their frustration with this late notice in a series of emails on
February 9, 2015. In one of these emails, Goldberg stated, “I am fine with her
burning up her time. If she has surgery then in a month I can hire someone else.”
Lovelace had back surgery on February 20, 2015.
Lovelace returned from FMLA leave on March 4, 2015. Lovelace was
subject to work restrictions upon her return, including the need to take periodic
breaks to stretch, walk, or stand. Lovelace was again temporarily assigned to work
for Dr. Adkins’ team. Another MA, Angela Butcher (“Butcher”), had been
recently hired for Dr. Adkins’ team, and once she had been trained, Lovelace
began floating among different teams. From April until July 2015, Lovelace
worked with Dr. Manik Amin’s team, including nurse Deb Orf (“Orf”), several
days a week. Over the next few months, Orf identified several performance and
behavioral issues, including that Lovelace failed to adequately complete assigned
tasks like scheduling, preparing paperwork, and checking phone messages.
In April 2015, Goldberg met with Lovelace for an annual performance
evaluation. Goldberg and Lovelace discussed Lovelace’s recent performance and
her transition back to work following her FMLA leave. Lovelace was dissatisfied
by her scores in the accompanying written evaluation, and later provided Goldberg
with a suggested revised version. Goldberg authorized Lovelace’s revisions,
enabling Lovelace to receive a raise. In May 2015, Lovelace met with Bob
Barczewski (“Barczewski”), a University Director of Business Operations, to voice
concerns about Goldberg’s treatment of her since she returned from leave. Also in
May 2015, Lovelace met with human resources consultant Sandra Sledge
(“Sledge”) to discuss the possibility of finding a new job in a different division. At
various times, Lovelace sought placement as a MA on specific physicians’ teams,
but she was never permanently reassigned.
In early July 2015, Goldberg and Brinkley spoke with several nurses and
physicians about Lovelace’s problematic performance and behavior. Dr. Brian
Van Tine allegedly reported that Lovelace, who is Caucasian, previously made a
statement to the effect that Butcher, who is African-American, did not like working
with white people. On July 10, 2015, Goldberg wrote an email to Sledge,
summarizing various performance issues. Goldberg stated that she believed she
had “enough” to fire Lovelace, but planned to provide a verbal warning only, and
requested guidance. On July 13, 2015, Goldberg met with Lovelace and Brinkley
to discuss these issues and provide a verbal warning. At this meeting, Lovelace
was upset by the criticism conveyed, complained that she was being labeled a
racist, and stated that she “was not letting it go.” The following day, Lovelace met
with Sledge to complain of the alleged racist labeling and FMLA retaliation.
Sledge undertook an investigation of Lovelace’s claims. Lovelace, displeased with
Sledge’s progress, reiterated her complaints directly to human resources manager
Leanne Stewart (“Stewart”) on July 21 and 24, 2015. With respect to the FMLA
retaliation claim, Stewart ultimately concluded that there had been no change in
Lovelace’s terms and conditions of employment following her return from leave.
On July 31, 2015, Brinkley and Sledge scheduled a follow-up meeting with
Lovelace. Goldberg was on vacation on this date. Brinkley provided Lovelace
with a checklist of MA duties to facilitate discussion regarding performance issues.
The discussion of performance upset Lovelace, so she asked to go home. Sledge
answered affirmatively and Lovelace left the room. A few minutes later, Brinkley
went to check on Lovelace at her cubicle. In front of several co-workers, Lovelace
jumped up and loudly told Brinkley, “don’t touch me,” “get away from me,” and
“you’re evil.” Brinkley left to inform Sledge about the disruptive confrontation.
Sledge went to Lovelace’s cubicle to tell her to go home, and threatened to call
Protective Services. Lovelace gathered several items and asked Sledge whether
she was being fired. Sledge responded that she was not. That evening, Sledge
wrote an email to Barczewski reporting the incident and advising that Lovelace be
placed on leave. On August 2, 2015, Barczewski called Lovelace to notify her that
she was being placed on administrative leave. On August 3, 2015, Stewart and
Lovelace spoke about the incident. On August 4, 2015, Sledge, Stewart, Brinkley,
and Goldberg met to discuss how to proceed with respect to Lovelace, and agreed
to recommend termination. On August 5, 2015, Barczewski decided to terminate
Lovelace. He sent a termination letter informing Lovelace that her behavior in the
July 31 incident was “not reflective of behavioral expectations.” He also called
Lovelace to notify her of the termination.
Lovelace brought this suit following her termination, asserting that
Defendants impermissibility retaliated against her for taking FMLA leave and in
response to her complaints about the racism allegations and post-surgery
accommodations. Both University and BJH submitted motions for summary
judgment as a matter of law. To the extent that their arguments are substantially
similar, I will address the issues together.
Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Lynn v. Deaconess Medical Center, 160 F.3d 484, 486 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial
responsibility of informing the court of the basis of its motion and identifying those
portions of the affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When such a
motion is made and supported by the movant, the nonmoving party may not rest on
his pleadings but must produce sufficient evidence to support the existence of the
essential elements of his case on which he bears the burden of proof. Id. at 324. In
resisting a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff has an
affirmative burden to designate specific facts creating a triable controversy.
Crossley v. Georgia Pacific Corp., 355 F.3d 1112, 1113 (8th Cir. 2004). The
Eighth Circuit refuses to apply a heightened summary judgment standard to
employment discrimination cases. See Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d
1031, 1043 (8th Cir. banc. 2011) (holding that there is no “discrimination case
exception” to the application of summary judgment, as district courts should not
“treat discrimination differently from other ultimate questions of fact.”).
In the absence of direct evidence of discrimination, courts employ the
burden shifting analysis of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
(1973) (Title VII case).1 Under the burden-shifting analysis, the plaintiff must
first establish a prima facie case of intentional discrimination. McDonnell, 411
U.S. at 802; Bashara v. Black Hills Corp., 26 F.3d 820, 823 (8th Cir. 1994). If the
plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, a presumption of discrimination is
established and the burden of production shifts to the defendant to articulate a
legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action.
McDonnell, 411 U.S. at 802. The defendant employer need not persuade the
court that the articulated reason was the basis of its action; rather, it must simply
See, e.g.,Wierman v. Casey’s General Stores, 638 F.3d 984 (8th Cir. 2011)
(applying the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis in case involving
FMLA and MHRA claims).
provide some evidence of a non-discriminatory reason or reasons for its action.
St. Mary’s Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 509 (1993). Upon the proffer of
such evidence, the presumption of discrimination established by the prima facie
case “simply drops out of the picture.” Id. at 510-11. The burden then shifts back
to the plaintiff to prove that the employer’s explanation was really a pretext for
discrimination. Wierman, 638 F.3d at 993. A rejection of the employer’s
proffered non-discriminatory reason by itself or combined with elements of the
prima facie case may be enough to establish, but does not compel, an inference of
intentional discrimination. St. Mary’s Honor Center, 509 U.S. at 511. “To
survive summary judgment, an employee must both discredit the employer’s
articulated reason and demonstrate the ‘circumstances permit a reasonable
inference of discriminatory animus.’” Johnson v. Securitas Sec. Services USA,
Inc., 769 F.3d 605 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted).
Lovelace brings three retaliation claims under FMLA and MHRA. Mr.
Lovelace brings an accompanying claim for loss of consortium. After a review of
the record before me and based upon the reasons that follow, I find that all of these
claims fail as a matter of law. As a result, I will grant Defendants’ motions for
a. Joint Employer Liability
The parties disagree as to whether both BJH and University are potentially
liable to Lovelace as joint employers. Lovelace alleges that BJH and University
should be treated as joint employers because her supervisors Goldberg, a BJH
employee, and Brinkley, a University employee, conspired to retaliate against her
for protected activities under FMLA and MHRA. BJH asserts that it should not be
treated as an employer because Lovelace was formally employed by University.
For purposes of its motion, however, BJH assumes the status of joint employer and
declines to request a ruling on this issue. As a result, I will proceed here by
treating BJH and University as joint employers.
b. FMLA Retaliation Claim
Lovelace asserts that Defendants retaliated against her for taking FMLA
leave. This claim fails as a matter of law. “In a [FMLA] retaliation claim, the
employee alleges that the employer discriminated against her for exercising her
FMLA rights.” Ebersole v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., 758 F.3d 917, 923 (8th Cir. 2014)
(citation omitted). Consequently, “an employer may not consider an employee’s
use of FMLA leave as a negative factor in an employment action.” Id. To establish
a prima facie case of FMLA retaliation consistent with the McDonnell Douglas
framework, Lovelace must initially show: “(1) that [s]he engaged in activity
protected under the Act, (2) that [s]he suffered a materially adverse employment
action, and (3) that a causal connection existed between the employee’s action and
the adverse employment action.” Pulczinski v. Trinity Structural Towers, Inc., 691
F.3d 996, 1007 (8th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Lovelace “must prove that [her]
exercise of FMLA rights ‘played a part’ in the employer’s decision” to take an
adverse action. Id. If Lovelace satisfies this initial prima facie burden, the burden
of production shifts to Defendants. Here, as a threshold matter, Lovelace fails to
establish a prima facie case. The first two elements are satisfied since Lovelace
engaged in protected activity by taking FMLA leave and suffered a materially
adverse employment action when she was terminated. However, Lovelace cannot
meet her burden of satisfying the third element, a causal connection between her
FMLA leave and a materially adverse employment action, because intervening
time and events negate any causal connection.
Courts consider temporal proximity in analyzing the causation element, and
generally decline to find sufficient proximity if multiple months passed between
events. See, e.g., Sisk v. Picture People, Inc., 669 F.3d 896, 901 (8th Cir. 2012)
(insufficient temporal proximity where approximately two months passed between
date employee took FMLA leave and was allegedly terminated, even though
termination occurred three days after returning from leave); Hite v. Vermeer Mfg.
Co., 446 F.3d 858, 866 (8th Cir. 2006) (only “very close” temporal proximity is
“sufficient to create an inference of the causal link;” additional evidence of
causation was required where two months passed between leave and termination).
In this case, approximately nine months passed between the time Lovelace took
FMLA leave and her termination. Lovelace’s FMLA leave began in December
2014 and she returned from FMLA leave on March 4, 2015. Lovelace alleges that
Goldberg and Brinkley conspired to have her terminated beginning in July 2015.
Lovelace was formally terminated on August 5, 2015. Lovelace argues that these
events were sufficiently close in time so as to establish FMLA causation.
However, several months passed between the time Lovelace took FMLA leave and
her termination. Lovelace’s alleged causal link is too temporally tenuous to
establish a connection between the protected conduct and the adverse employment
action. As a result, Lovelace must present additional evidence demonstrating a
genuine factual issue as to FMLA retaliation. See, e.g., Kiel v. Select Artificials,
Inc., 169 F.3d 1131, 1136 (8th Cir. 1999) (en banc); Hite, 446 F.3d at 866.
Lovelace focuses her FMLA retaliation argument upon temporal proximity,
without sufficiently enumerating additional reasoning or evidence to demonstrate
causation. While Lovelace suggests that the record supports her position, she
insufficiently enumerates factual allegations mostly based upon her own self12
serving testimony. See Barge v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 87 F.3d 256, 260 (8th Cir.
1996) (In determining whether there are genuine issues of material fact to defeat a
summary judgment motion, the “district court is not required to speculate on which
portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it obligated to wade
through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the
nonmoving party’s claim.”). Lovelace fails to establish a genuine issue of material
fact connecting her FMLA leave to her termination, which appears to have been
caused by her own intervening performance and behavior.
Considering the record as a whole, the evidence demonstrates that Lovelace
was terminated for unrelated intervening non-retaliatory reasons. Defendants
proffer several legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for their actions, including
Lovelace’s consistently poor performance and behavior. More specifically,
Defendants assert that Lovelace was terminated as a result of the incident on July
31, 2015. During this incident, Lovelace failed to accept criticism, yelled at a
supervisor, and disrupted her co-workers. Although Lovelace acknowledges that
this incident occurred and was Defendants’ stated purpose for termination, she
appears to indicate that the termination was pretextual. For example, Lovelace
points to allegedly conspiratorial communications between Brinkley and Goldberg.
Lovelace also promotes a theory of cat’s paw liability, arguing that Goldberg and
Brinkley used Barczewski as a dupe to trigger her termination.2 Goldberg and
Brinkley may not have liked Lovelace, and may have made inappropriate
comments at times. However, Lovelace does not sufficiently demonstrate how
Defendants’ explanation was pretextual or that Defendants exhibited
discriminatory animus, particularly in light of overwhelming evidence that she
performed poorly and behaved inappropriately in the workplace. Lovelace could
not indefinitely insulate herself from discipline by taking FMLA leave or by
making complaints to human resources. See Ebersole, 758 F.3d at 923-4 (“[I]f the
employer demonstrates that it would have terminated the employment had the
employee not exercised her FMLA rights, then the employer faces no liability.”).
On the whole, Lovelace has not satisfied her burden of showing that she was fired
in retaliation for taking FMLA leave. As a result, Lovelace’s FMLA retaliation
claim fails as a matter of law.
c. MHRA Retaliation Claims
Lovelace brings race and disability retaliation claims under the Missouri
Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). The MHRA prohibits employers from
The cat’s paw analysis applies where “a biased subordinate, who lacks
decisionmaking power, uses the formal decisionmaker as a dupe in a deliberate
scheme to trigger a discriminatory employment action.” Cherry v. Siemens
Healthcare Diagnostics, Inc., 829 F.3d 974, 977 (8th Cir. 2016) (internal citations
omitted). This analysis is irrelevant here, given the lack of a discriminatory
discriminating against individuals because of enumerated categories including race
and disability. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.1. Employers may not retaliate
against employees who opposed unlawful practices, reported a violation of law, or
“filed a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in any
investigation, proceeding or hearing conducted pursuant to [the MHRA].” Mo.
Rev. Stat. § 213.070. “Under the MHRA, a plaintiff alleging retaliation must meet
three requirements: (1) the plaintiff complained of an MHRA-prohibited activity,
(2) the employer took an adverse employment action, and (3) a causal connection
exists between the complaint and adverse action.” Shirrell v. St. Francis Med. Ctr.,
793 F.3d 881 (8th Cir. 2015); Daugherty v. City of Maryland Heights, 231 S.W.3d
814 (Mo. 2007) (en banc) (courts evaluating MHRA claims should look to both
Missouri law and federal employment discrimination law that is consistent with
Missouri law). The plaintiff in a MHRA claim “need not show that retaliation was
a substantial or determining factor in the employment decision; rather, proving a
causal connection between the complaint and the adverse action depends on
showing that the complaint was a contributing factor in the adverse action.” Cosby
v. Steak N Shake Operations, Inc., Not Reported in F.Supp.3d, 2014 WL 7021766
(E.D. Mo. 2014) (internal quotation omitted). “A retaliation claim is not
conditioned on the success of the underlying discrimination or harassment claim.”
Soto v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 502 S.W.3d 38 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted).
“The only issue is whether the person making the complaint had a reasonable good
faith belief that there were grounds for the claim of discrimination.” Id.
Lovelace complained to human resources representatives concerning her
treatment with respect to surgery accommodations following her return from
FMLA leave and for being labeled a racist. She asserts that these activities invoked
MHRA retaliation protection because they concerned race and disability
discrimination and she was terminated at least in part due to her complaints.
Defendants assert that Lovelace is not entitled to MHRA protection because she
was not retaliated against for engaging in any protected activity and any race and
disability-related complaints did not contribute to her termination. With respect to
both MHRA claims, Defendants also argue that to the extent Lovelace complained
to her supervisors about race and disability related matters, she was impermissibly
attempting to insulate herself from further disciplinary action or discharge. See,
e.g., Carrington v. City of Des Moines, 481 F.3d 1046, 1051 (8th Cir. 2007). For
the following reasons, both of Lovelace’s MHRA retaliation claims fail as a matter
i. Race-based Retaliation
Lovelace fails to establish a genuine issue of material fact demonstrating
race-based retaliation under the MHRA. Lovelace alleges that Defendants
retaliated against her for complaining about race discrimination. Lovelace, who is
Caucasian, allegedly made a racially charged comment to the effect that her
African-American co-worker Butcher did not like working with white people.
Lovelace asserts that her supervisors falsely accused her of being a racist following
this incident and retaliated by terminating her after she complained to human
resources. It is unclear how Lovelace could have a reasonable good faith belief
that her race-related comments would entitle her to protection. “Missouri
precedent interpreting discrimination on the basis of race are confined to
evaluating whether an employer’s conduct constituted discrimination of an
employee because of the color of his skin, as opposed to the substance of the
employee’s beliefs (accurate or inaccurate) on issues relating to race.” Shore v.
Children’s Mercy Hospital, 477 S.W.3d 727, 735 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D. 2015)
(internal quotations and citations omitted) (Summary judgment on MHRA claim
was proper where employee alleged that he was retaliated against for complaining
to human resources after his supervisor accused him of being a racist.). Lovelace
never alleges, either directly or indirectly, that she was discriminated or retaliated
against because of her race.
Lovelace further fails to demonstrate how her complaints about being
labeled a racist contributed to her termination. As discussed with respect to the
FMLA claim, Defendants argue that Lovelace was terminated for intervening nondiscriminatory reasons, i.e., her poor performance and behavior. Lovelace briefly
suggests that a causal connection between the racism allegations and her
termination exists because she was terminated shortly after complaining to human
resources and because Goldberg and Brinkley conspired against her. However,
Lovelace does not show how her complaints about the racism allegations
specifically prompted any supervisor to take adverse action. If anything, the
manner in which Lovelace complained about being labeled a racist despite the
willingness of her supervisors to let the matter rest provides further confirmation
that she consistently behaved inappropriately in the workplace. Lovelace cannot
prevail on her race-based retaliation claim under the MHRA.
ii. Disability-based Retaliation
Lovelace fails to establish a genuine issue of material fact demonstrating
disability-based retaliation under the MHRA. Lovelace alleges that Defendants
retaliated against her for seeking a disability accommodation. She asserts that she
sought an accommodation because she had temporary work restrictions upon
returning from FMLA leave and she complained to human resources
representatives concerning these restrictions. However, Lovelace does not actually
allege that she was disabled, nor does she provide any evidence demonstrating that
she made any request or complaint related to disability accommodations.
Lovelace’s complaints to human resources concerned her temporary post-surgery
work restrictions, not disability accommodations. See Samuels v. Kansas City Mo.
School Dist., 437 F.3d 797, 803 (8th Cir. 2006) (“Evidence of general temporary
work restrictions, without more, is insufficient to constitute a disability.”). As a
result, Lovelace did not engage in the protected activity of complaining of
unlawful disability-based discrimination. It is unclear how Lovelace could have a
reasonable good faith belief that there were grounds for a disability discrimination
claim if she knew she was not disabled and was not complaining about disability
accommodations, as she has acknowledged.
Moreover, Lovelace fails to show how any complaint concerning her postsurgery restrictions contributed to her termination. As is discussed above,
Defendants argue that Lovelace was terminated because of intervening nondiscriminatory reasons, i.e., her poor performance and behavior. Lovelace briefly
suggests that a causal connection between the alleged disability retaliation and her
termination exists because she was terminated shortly after complaining to human
resources and because Goldberg and Brinkley conspired against her. However,
Lovelace does not provide evidence demonstrating that her complaints about
temporary restrictions contributed to any adverse action by Defendants.
Conversely, the record suggests that she was terminated for entirely different
reasons. Lovelace cannot prevail on her disability-based retaliation claim under
d. Loss of Consortium
Mr. Lovelace’s loss of consortium claim fails as a matter of law. Defendants
assert that a derivative loss of consortium claim cannot be predicated on statutory
claims under FMLA and MHRA. See, e.g., Franz v. Kernan, 951 F.Supp. 159
(E.D. Mo. 1996) (spouse may only bring a loss of consortium claim in context of
state tort claim; defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the loss
of consortium claim under the MHRA and various federal statutes because claims
did not constitute “underlying tort.”); Schulte v. Consol. Freightways Corp. of
Delaware, Not Reported in F.Supp. 3d, 1994 WL 912944 (E.D. Mo. 1994) (no
relief could be granted for loss of consortium claim where there was no underlying
tort). Moreover, the loss of consortium claim is not actionable because Lovelace’s
predicate claims have failed. Under Missouri law, “[l]oss of consortium is a
derivative claim that arises out of the original injury to the spouse.” Bosch v. St.
Louis Healthcare Network, 41 S.W.3d 462, 465 (Mo. banc. 2001); see also
Dunham v. City of O’Fallon, 945 F.Supp. 1256, 1263 (E.D.Mo.1996), aff’d, 124
F.3d 207 (8th Cir.1997) (internal citation omitted) (“[A] spouse cannot recover for
loss of consortium if the other spouse has no valid claim for personal injuries.”).
Because I will grant summary judgment for Defendants on Lovelace’s FMLA and
MHRA claims, Mr. Lovelace cannot prevail in his loss of consortium claim.
For the foregoing reasons, and based upon the record before the Court, I will
grant Defendants’ motions for summary judgment.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Washington University’s
Motion for Summary Judgment  is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s
Motion for Summary Judgment  is GRANTED.
RODNEY W. SIPPEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 13th day of November, 2017.
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