Judge dismisses suit against Kindred Healthcare, cites plaintiff's disengagement in case

A federal judge in Philadelphia has dismissed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Kindred Healthcare because, as the jurist wrote, the plaintiff has “entirely disengaged” from the litigation. In a five-page memorandum and order filed on Sept. 5, U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, who sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted a dismissal motion that had been filed by the defendant’s attorneys, who argued that the retaliatory discharge case should be tossed because of plaintiff Christin McLucas’s non-involvement in the civil action. McLucas filed suit against Kindred Healthcare in December 2011 over claims that she was wrongfully terminated from her job of two years as a nurse for the company, which has locations in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, because she complained about mistreatment on the part of her supervisor. McLucas, who alleged the mistreatment came in the form of sexual harassment, went on to represent herself in the matter after her lawyer, William T. Wilson, pulled out of the case. Pratter, the jurist assigned to the matter, had approved Wilson’s petition to withdraw from the case back in April. Wilson had argued that he could no longer represent McLucas because the woman had cut off communication with the attorney. He had filed his motion to withdraw from the case last summer. In last week’s memorandum and order, Pratter cited McLucas’s failure to respond to the defendant’s motion to dismiss as the last straw. “As the procedural history of this case illustrates, Ms. McLucas has entirely disengaged from this action,” Pratter wrote. “The Court is satisfied that Ms. Lucas’s conduct demonstrates that she does not intend to proceed in prosecuting her case.” Pratter wrote that McLucas has failed to comply with court orders, and she has not cooperated with the defendants on discovery matters. “Such behavior has forced the opposing parties to engage in costly and time consuming motion practice to achieve dismissal of the claims against them,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, the Defendants have been prejudiced by Ms. McLucas’s lack of cooperation. This is particularly true for discovery purposes, as the Defendants are handicapped in defending Ms. McLucas’s claims when she will not even submit to a deposition to answer the most basic questions about her case.” Pratter wrote that it would be “inappropriate to prolong this action” because of the burden the defendants would surely face in continuing their defense without the plaintiff’s cooperation.

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