United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Mary Cole claims that, during her hospitalization on May
30-31, 2013, she was discriminated against on the basis of
her disability and retaliated against by Defendant St.
Francis Medical Center, in violation of the Missouri Human
Rights Act (“MHRA”), the Americans with
Disability Act (“ADA”), and Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
has filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Counts
I, II, III, IV, and VI of Cole's Complaint. (Doc. 29.)
Cole has filed a Response (Doc. 30), and Defendant has filed
a Reply (Doc. 32).
Summary Judgment Standard
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court
may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the
information before the court demonstrates that “there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273
(8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this
burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there
is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec.
Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not the
“mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties.” State Auto. Ins. Co. v.
Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004).
“Instead, the dispute must be outcome determinative
under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of
Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it
“might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth specific
facts showing that there is sufficient evidence in his favor
to allow a jury to return a verdict for him.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324. “If ‘opposing parties tell two
different stories, ' the court must review the record,
determine which facts are material and genuinely disputed,
and then view those facts in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party - as long as those facts are not ‘so
blatantly contradicted by the record . . . that no reasonable
jury could believe' them.” Reed v. City of St.
Charles, Mo., 561 F.3d 788 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)).
Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not
sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co.,
Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
review the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party and give that party the benefit of any inferences that
logically can be drawn from those facts. Matsushita,
475 U.S. at 587; Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409
F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005). “Credibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions,
not those of a judge.” Torgerson v. City of
Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc.,
530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)). The court is required, however, to
resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving
party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chemical Interchange
Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976).
Factual Background 
Mary Cole was admitted to Saint Francis Medical Center
(“SFMC”) on May 30, 2013, via ambulance. Cole
believed she was having a heart attack.
a Missouri not-for-profit corporation located in Cape
Girardeau, Missouri. SFMC's Bylaws state, in relevant
The Medical Center, sponsored by Saint Francis Healthcare
System, a Private Non-Collegial Juridic Person under the
jurisdiction of the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Springfield-Cape Girardeau, participates in the health care
mission of the Roman Catholic Church. As such, the Medical
Center and all who are associated with it are responsible to
function in a manner which is consistent with and in
furtherance of the health care apostolate of the Roman
(Doc. 28-2 at 1.) SFMC's Articles of Incorporation
provide that it is to be “operated as a Catholic
Hospital and shall be a member of the Catholic Hospital
Association.” (Doc. 28-3 at 2.) The Articles of
Incorporation further provide that all proposed members of
the Board of Directors must be submitted to and approved by
the acting Bishop or Administrator of the Diocese of
Springfield/Cape Girardeau or its successor diocese. The
Articles of Incorporation provide that they may be amended,
but only upon the approval of the acting Bishop or
Administrator of the Diocese of Springfield/Cape Girardeau.
public Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) filings,
SFMC describes its “mission” as follows:
The mission of Saint Francis Medical Center is to provide a
ministry of healing and wellness inspired by its Christian
philosophy and values…Saint Francis Medical Center is
a 277-bed facility serving more than 650, 000 people
throughout Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and
Arkansas. The medical center provides comprehensive inpatient
acute care services for medical and surgical patients
specializing in orthopedics, neurosurgery, cardiovascular
services, oncology, disease management, gastroenterology,
maternal-child health and neurology.
(Doc. 31-1 at 1.) In its IRS filings, SFMC gives as its
reason for obtaining tax-exempt status that it is “a
hospital or a cooperative hospital service organization,
” as opposed to a “church, convention of
churches, or association of churches…”
Id. at 13.
deaf. Cole's first and preferred language is American
Sign Language (“ASL”). When Cole was admitted to
SFMC on May 30, 2013, an interpreter who is fluent in ASL was
present and assisted Cole and SFMC staff in communicating
morning of May 31, 2013, the same live ASL interpreter was
present when Cole was scheduled to undergo medical testing.
Fran Sauer, Manager of Inpatient Rehabilitation Services at
SFMC, asked Cole whether she would be willing to use the
hospital's new Video Remote Interpreting
(“VRI”) service. Cole agreed to use VRI.
system had not been used by a deaf patient prior to its use
by Cole. Ms. Sauer thought this was the perfect opportunity
to trial the system because there was a live ASL interpreter
present to work in tandem with the VRI system. SFMC had
implemented the VRI system after the company it uses for live
interpreters, Southeast Alliance for Disability Independence
(“SADI”), sent interpreters to the hospital on
more than one occasion who did not have the right level of
certification to provide medical interpretive services. Cole
works for SADI as a Communication Specialist, but is not an
system was used in Cole's room for thirty to forty-five
minutes. The parties dispute whether the VRI operated
effectively. At some point, Cole refused the VRI system
because she believed it was ineffective. Cole alleges that
SFMC then instructed the live interpreter to leave. Defendant
disputes that SFMC ever asked the live interpreter to leave.
SFMC used other methods of communication, including a white
board, after Cole refused the VRI system and the live
interpreter left. The parties dispute whether Cole had