Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Folsom v. Missouri State Highway Patrol

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

August 20, 2019

HENRY JAMES FOLSOM, Appellant,
v.
MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL and SARAH EBERHARD, Respondents.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County The Honorable Jon E. Beetem, Judge

          Before: Karen King Mitchell, C.J., and Alok Ahuja and Anthony Rex Gabbert, JJ.

          Alok Ahuja, Judge.

         Henry Folsom sued his former employer, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and his Highway Patrol supervisor, Major Sarah Eberhard (collectively "the Highway Patrol"), in the Circuit Court of Cole County. Folsom claimed that the Highway Patrol discriminated against him on the basis of his disability (post-traumatic stress disorder) when it terminated his employment as a Trooper. Folsom alleged that the Highway Patrol's actions violated the Missouri Human Rights Act, chapter 213, RSMo.

         The circuit court granted summary judgment to the Highway Patrol. Folsom appeals. He contends that summary judgment was inappropriate because there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the Highway Patrol should have offered him an alternative position in which he was capable of working, as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. We conclude that Folsom failed to present a genuine factual issue whether an alternative position was available which would have accommodated the highly restrictive conditions under which he was able to work. We accordingly affirm the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to the Patrol.

         Factual Background

         Folsom was employed as a Trooper with the Highway Patrol starting in January 1997. Folsom was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") after he was involved in a work-related shooting in 2000. In September 2012, when Folsom had the rank of sergeant and was a criminal investigator with the Highway Patrol, he was involved in a second work-related shooting. This second shooting incident exacerbated his PTSD. Folsom did not return to work at the Patrol after the 2012 shooting. Once he used up his available leave time, Folsom's employment with the Highway Patrol was terminated in December 2014.

         Folsom testified that he asked for an accommodation for his PTSD in late 2012 and in 2013, but was told by his supervisors that if he could not perform his duties as a Trooper, no other accommodation would be made for him.

         Following the 2012 shooting, Folsom saw a series of mental health professionals, each of whom concluded that he was incapable of performing his former duties with the Highway Patrol. First, Folsom saw Dr. Steven Akeson, a clinical psychologist. On January 21, 2013, following his third session with Folsom, Dr. Akeson noted that "[a]t this time it is my opinion that [Folsom] is not yet ready to return to work." Dr. Akeson did, however, note that "[a] graduated return to work related duties would be anticipated but more specific limitations would depend on progress."

         In December 2013, Dr. David Lutz, a clinical psychologist, conducted a fitness for duty evaluation on Folsom at the request of the Highway Patrol. During the examination, Dr. Lutz noted that Folsom,

would have great difficulty returning to his job in a safe and effective manner. He had made it clear that he will not put himself in such a situation [where use of a firearm might be required] again. The fact that he has gone through two shooting incidents heightens his vulnerability for symptoms even further. If he were [to] return to his job, he likely would put himself and others at risk. The job description contains statements such as, "Ability to function effectively in high-pressure and stressful situations." [Folsom] would not be able to function effectively in such a situation, as his symptoms, including hypervigilance and hyperresponsiveness, are likely to be reactivated even more easily.

         Dr. Lutz concluded that Folsom "is not psychologically capable of returning to his job with the Missouri State Highway Patrol."

         In June 2014, Folsom met with Dr. Wayne Stillings. According to Dr. Stillings' report, Folsom told him that because of his experience in the two prior shooting incidents, "he will never work in law enforcement again. Because his PTSD gives him false signals of being under threat, he is fearful of pulling a gun and shooting someone when they are merely reaching into their back pocket for a wallet, etc."

         Between October and December 2014, Dr. Edwin Wolfgram interviewed Folsom. In his report, Dr. Wolfgram indicated that Folsom would not be able: "to understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions"; "to make judgments that are commensurate with the functions of unskilled work - i.e., simple work related decisions"; "to respond appropriately to supervision, coworkers and usual ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.