Houston attorneys Kevin Troutman and Mauro Ramirez won a jury trial in which the plaintiff contended that CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System in Texarkana, Texas, had violated both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff in this case is a single mother of four children, the youngest of which has severe asthma that requires periodic breathing treatments and administration of medicine. She requested and used intermittent FMLA leave for more than two years before she was terminated for excessive tardiness and continuing to refuse opportunities to arrive at work on schedule. Ms. Sherman alleged that St. Michael interfered with her FMLA rights, retaliated against her for exercising them and discriminated against her because of her association with a disabled person, her son.
At trial, Ms. Sherman contended that her tardiness was due to flare-ups of her son's asthma, which she said should have been covered by her FMLA leave. (Ms. Sherman's FMLA leave was medically certified to attend to provide breathing treatments and other care during asthma flare-ups, which required treatment expected to last from one day to two weeks.) Kevin and Mauro demonstrated to the jury that: Ms. Sherman's morning activities exceeded the scope of her FMLA certification; she had a pattern of sporadic, unpredictable tardiness, regardless of her scheduled starting time; when asked, Ms. Sherman did not attribute her absence to her son's condition, but to dropping off her four children at three different locations each morning; she was offered but refused to consider alternatives that could have helped her arrive at work on time; and she could have avoided virtually all of her tardiness by simply leaving home a few minutes earlier in the mornings.
After approximately one hour of deliberations, the jury found in favor of St. Michael on all of Ms. Sherman's claims.