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Ogidi-Gbegbaje v. Werner Enterprise

United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division

January 26, 2015




This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Janet F. King's Final Report and Recommendation [57] ("R&R"). The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Defendant Werner Enterprise's ("Defendant") Motion for Summary Judgment [50] ("Motion").


On June 18, 2013, Plaintiff Michael Ogidi-Gbegbaje ("Plaintiff), proceeding/7ro se, filed his Complaint [1] ("Complaint"). Plaintiff asserts a claim of racial discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiff claims that Dr. June Marella-Luce ("Marella-Luce") provides, for Defendant, medical examinations to determine driver fitness pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act ("FMCSA"). Plaintiff claims that Marella-Luce denied Plaintiff a FMCSA medical certification and, when doing so, Plaintiff alleges that she stated that “she’s white” and that “she had the final say and Michael you are black.” (See Complaint at 3; Response in Opposition [55] (“Response”) to Motion at 2; Motion at Exhibit B ¶ 3). Because Plaintiff could not be FMCSA certified, his employment was terminated.

On July 7, 2014, Defendant filed its Motion and its Statement of Material Facts [50-2] in support of its Motion (“SOMF”). On August 15, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Response to the Motion but did not file a response to Defendant’s SOMF, as required by Rule 56.1B(2) of the Court’s Local Rules.[1]

Defendant, in the Motion and SOMF, provided facts regarding Plaintiff’s examination and the denial of his medical certification. Defendant asserts that the FMCSA requires Plaintiff to pass a medical examination to be certified as a commercial truck driver. (SOMF ¶ 2). On March 30, 2012, Marella-Luce performed a medical examination of Plaintiff to determine if he was medically qualified under the FMCSA requirements to be certified as a commercial truck driver. (Id. ¶ 3). During the March 30, 2012, examination, Marella-Luce noted a possible cardiac rhythm irregularity. (Id. ¶ 4). In light of her findings, Marella-Luce certified Plaintiff to drive for a period of three (3) months, requiring ongoing evaluation to monitor possible cardiac irregularities, and she required Plaintiff, prior to June 30, 2012, to have a primary care physician more fully evaluate his cardiac rhythm irregularity. (Id. ¶ 5). Plaintiff claims it was at the March 30, 2012, examination that Marella-Luce stated that “she’s white” and that “she told [him] that, oh, she had the final say. She had the final say and [he] was black and should not question her and [he] should come back in three months.” (Plaintiff’s Deposition [50-4] (“Dep”) at 58-59). Defendant denies that Marella-Luce made any statement regarding Plaintiff’s race. (SOMF ¶ 6).

On June 21, 2013, Dr. Parrin T. Barton (“Barton”) examined Plaintiff, including by performing an EKG. Based on the exam and EKG testing, Barton made a tentative diagnosis that Plaintiff’s irregular heart rhythm was the result of right bundle branch block (“RBBB”).[2] (Id. ¶ 7). He determined also that Plaintiff needed a HgbA1c test.[3] (Id. ¶ 9).

On June 22, 2012, Marella-Luce examined Plaintiff again and, based on Barton’s evaluation, certified Plaintiff to drive for an additional three (3) months. (Id. ¶ 10). She also required him to have periodic medical evaluations to monitor his cardiac issues, and also required him to have, in July 2012, a follow-up evaluation by Barton. (Id.). Marella-Luce noted that during Plaintiff’s June 22, 2012, exam, Plaintiff’s random blood glucose level was 350mg/dL, and that the day before his level was 186mg/dL. (Id. ¶ 11). In light of these test findings, she required Plaintiff to have his HgbA1c tested prior to September 22, 2012, and, because of a possible diagnosis of RBBB, she required him to have a cardiac evaluation. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 14).

On June 25, 2012, Plaintiff saw Barton again, but Plaintiff declined to have his HgbA1c tested. (Id. ¶ 17).

On September 7, 2012, Plaintiff had a further examination by Marella-Luce. (Id. ¶ 18). Plaintiff had not, as Marella-Luce required, obtained a HgbA1c test and he had not seen a cardiologist. (Id. ¶ 18). During the September 7, 2012, examination, Marella-Luce also observed Plaintiff, while in the waiting room, speaking to himself as if he was talking on a telephone. (Id. ¶ 19). When Marella-Luce asked Plaintiff about this behavior, he explained that the CIA had implanted a chip in his shoulder, which he used for confidential military communications with the CIA. (Id. ¶ 20).[4] Based on Plaintiff’s statements about the CIA chip in his shoulder, his cardiac issue, his elevated blood glucose levels, and his refusal to have his cardiac and blood sugar problems evaluated, Marella-Luce determined that Plaintiff was not qualified under 48 C.F.R. § 391.41 to be certified to drive a commercial vehicle. (Id. ¶ 21). Marella-Luce advised Plaintiff that he could return for further evaluation if he provided evidence of a sufficient psychological evaluation and evidence that he had addressed his medical problems. (Id. ¶ 22). Plaintiff asserts that, at the September 7, 2012, examination, Marella-Luce stated “[w]ell, I am a white woman and I have the final say. Michael, you’re black.” (Dep. at 108). Plaintiff’s failure to be certified ultimately led to his termination by Defendant.

On October 3, 2014, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the claims in the Complaint. (R&R at 24). The Magistrate Judge concluded that, while the alleged comments made by Marella-Luce establish an inference of discrimination sufficient to support a prima facie case, Defendant (i) had articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the action taken against Plaintiff, (ii) Plaintiff did not provide any evidence to suggest that Defendant’s stated reasons were pretextual, and (iii) Plaintiff did not otherwise refute Defendant’s stated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason provided to Plaintiff for his termination. (Id. at 17-22).

On October 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Objections [59] (“Objections”) to the R&R. In the Objections, Plaintiff asserts that, because the Magistrate Judge concluded that he established a prima facie case of discrimination, he is entitled to proceed to trial.


A. Standard of ...

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