United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Steven Whalen United States Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER: (I) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT  AND (II) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Court Judge.
a Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) case.
Defendants counterclaim with a breach of contract action. The
relationship between the parties in this case (such as who is
the employer and how many employees are employed) is vital to
this case. However, those basic facts are unclear. Pending
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment  and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
. Defendants' Motion focuses on the FMLA and is fully
briefed by both parties. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment focuses on breach of contract. Defendants did not
respond to Plaintiff's motion, nor did the Defendants
mention it during oral argument. For the following reasons
the Court will DENY Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment  and GRANT
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment .
suit is brought against United Outstanding Physicians, PLLC;
UOP, LLC; and Assurance Payroll, LLC, (collectively
“Defendants”). The relationship between the three
Defendants is unclear and subject to part of the dispute in
the instant Motions for Summary Judgment. As best as the
Court can tell United Outstanding Physicians, PLLC is
virtually synonymous with UOP, LLC. Dkt. No. 35-2, p. 4 (Pg.
ID 452). Together, United Outstanding Physicians, PLLC and
UOP, LLC connect health plans with physicians in order to
provide medical services. Id. The CEO of UOP, LLC is
Dr. Yasser Hammoud. Id.
Payroll, LLC (hereinafter “Assurance”) does
business as Terra 1, Global HR Group, and Global HR I.
Assurance and its affiliates provide payroll and other
services to United Outstanding Physicians, PLLC and UOP, LLC.
Joyce Dunlap (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) was
employed as a “Physician Liaison”. Dkt. No. 35-4,
p. 7 (Pg. ID 481). Plaintiff began working on October 15,
2007. Dkt. No. 27-2, p. 2 (Pg. ID 341). Plaintiff claims that
she is unsure who her actual employer was.
October 3, 2013, Plaintiff's son was diagnosed with
leukemia. Dkt. No. 27-2, p.4 (Pg. ID 343). On or about
October 15, 2013 Plaintiff requested family medical leave.
Dkt. No. 27-7, p. 2 (Pg. ID 366). On October 22, 2013
Plaintiff was granted leave and assured that she would not be
dropped from her health insurance. Dkt. No. 23-3, p. 2 (Pg.
ID 269). On November 1, 2013, Plaintiff's health
insurance was discontinued. Dkt. No. 27-2, p. 5 (Pg. ID 344).
This litigation followed. To date, Plaintiff has not returned
to work. To avoid confusion, additional facts are explained
during the Discussion section.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) “directs that summary
judgment shall be granted if there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law.” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio
Alzheimer's Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th
Cir. 1998) (quotations omitted). The court must view the
facts, and draw reasonable inferences from those facts, in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986). No genuine dispute of material fact exists where the
record “taken as a whole could not lead a rational
trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Ultimately, the court evaluates
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
FMLA prohibits interference and retaliation. Interference
occurs when an employer “interfere[s] with,
restrain[s], or den[ies] the exercise of or the attempt to
exercise, any right provided under [the FMLA].” 29
U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1). Retaliation occurs when an employer
“discharge[s] or in any other manner discriminate[s]
against any individual for opposing any practice made
unlawful by [the FMLA].” 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2).
A. Interference “An employee may prove FMLA
interference using the familiar burden-shifting framework
articulated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411
U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).”
Demyanovich v. Cadon Plating & Coatings, L.L.C.,
747 F.3d 419, 427 (6th Cir. 2014). “[T]he employee has
the initial burden of establishing his prima facie case; if
he does so, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a
legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions;
finally, the employee has the burden of rebutting the
employer's proffered reasons by showing them to be
pretextual.” Id. (citing Donald v. Sybra,
Inc., 667 F.3d 757, 761-62 (6th Cir. 2012)).
establish a claim for interference under the FMLA, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that[:]
(1) he is an eligible employee,
(2) the defendant is an employer as defined under the FMLA,
(3) the employee was entitled to leave under the FMLA,
(4) the employee gave the employer notice of his intention to
take leave, and
(5) the employer denied the employee FMLA benefits to which
he was entitled.” Tennial v. United Parcel Serv.,
Inc., 840 F.3d 292, 308 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing
Walton v. Ford Motor Co., 424 F.3d 481, 485
(6th Cir. 2005)).
to the Defendants, the Plaintiff cannot establish a prima
facie case for interference. Defendants argue that the
Plaintiff “cannot establish that she was an
eligible employee, or that any of the defendants are
covered employers, or that she was entitled to
FMLA leave, or that she was denied benefits or
rights.” Dkt. No. 23, p. 11 (Pg. ID 252) (emphasis
in original). The Court will address each argument.
U.S.C. § 2611 puts forth the definitions for the FMLA.
“The term ‘eligible employee' means an
employee who has been employed--
(i) for at least 12 months by the employer
with respect to whom leave is requested under section 2612 of
this title; and
(ii) for at least 1, 250 hours of service
with such employer during the previous 12-month
case, it seems undisputed that Plaintiff worked at least 12
months and for at least 1, 250 hours. Dkt. No. 27, p. 15 (Pg.
ID 324). Therefore, Plaintiff can establish that she was an
eligible employee based on her hours and length of
employment. Summary judgement on this element is thus
Covered Employer and Entitlement to Leave
closer issues are who employed the Plaintiff and how many
employees were employed. If the number of employees is less
than 50, Plaintiff is not entitled to leave and this claim
“The term ‘eligible employee' does not