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Bellone v. Southwick-Tolland Regional School Dist.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

May 2, 2014

SCOTT BELLONE, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
SOUTHWICK-TOLLAND REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant, Appellee

Page 419

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Kenneth P. Neiman, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

Scott Bellone, Pro se.

Patricia M. Rapinchuk, Jeffrey J. Trapani, and Robinson Donovan, P.C. on brief for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Stahl and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 420

STAHL, Circuit Judge.

In this action alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § § 2601-2654, plaintiff-appellant Scott Bellone appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of his former employer, the Southwick-Tolland Regional School District. He argues, among other things, that the district court overlooked several genuine issues of material fact, misapplied the parties' burdens of production, and relied upon inadmissible evidence.[1] We disagree and affirm.

I. Facts & Background

We recite here only the undisputed facts that are relevant to this appeal, construing those facts in the light most favorable to Bellone. See Ponte v. Steelcase Inc., 741 F.3d 310, 313 (1st Cir. 2014). Bellone has attempted to supplement the record on appeal with certain evidence that he did not present to the district court. As we made clear in a December 2013 order, we will decide this appeal on the basis of the record compiled before the district court. See Fed. R. App. P. 10(a) (describing the composition of the record on appeal); Smith v. Jenkins, 732 F.3d 51, 76 (1st Cir. 2013) (" Save for certain exceptions not applicable here, we do not consider arguments or evidence not presented to the district court." ).

Bellone began working for the Southwick-Tolland Regional School District in November 2005, as a fourth grade teacher at Woodland Elementary School in Southwick, Massachusetts. On March 4, 2010, Bellone informed the School District that he needed to take a two-week leave of absence for medical reasons. He provided a note from his physician, Dr. Aleksandr Pugach, stating that he would be unable to work from March 3, 2010 to March 23, 2010. On March 23, 2010, Bellone provided a second note from Dr. Pugach, stating that he would be unable to work from March 23, 2010 to April 15, 2010. On March 24, 2010, the School District sent Bellone whet it later characterized as an FMLA eligibility notice. The letter instructed Bellone to fill out a certification form and return it within fifteen days. Dr. Pugach submitted the completed form on April 10, 2010, representing that Bellone was unable to perform the job function of " teach[ing] children" for what Dr. Pugach estimated would be an " uncertain" period of time.[2] On May 3, 2010, the School District notified Bellone that the form did

Page 421

not provide enough specific information about his medical condition. On May 10, 2010, Bellone gave the School District permission to communicate directly with Dr. Pugach. For the remainder of the academic year, which ended on June 21, 2010, the School District continued to receive correspondence from Dr. Pugach stating that Bellone was unable to work.[3]

On July 9, 2010, the School District sent Bellone what is known as an FMLA designation notice, informing him that he had been approved for FMLA leave, that the School District had designated his twelve-week leave period as March 4, 2010 through June 4, 2010, that he had exhausted his FMLA entitlement during that time, and, therefore, that the School District was " requiring that [Bellone's] physician indicate his/her medical opinion regarding [Bellone's] ability to come back to work for the next school year." The letter also informed Bellone that, if he was not medically ...


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