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Rader v. Ensign United States Drilling Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 23, 2016



Richard P. Matsch, Senior District Judge

Nicholas Rader, a former employee of Ensign United States Drilling, Inc. (“Ensign”) believes that he was fired from his job as Driller on Rig No. 145 because his immediate supervisor, Rig Manager Adam Roeseler, and Drilling Manager, Ryan Hessler, mistakenly thought that he was suffering from leukemia or some form of cancer and would become a liability for the company. Rader acted on that belief by filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in May, 2013, alleging violations of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101. (Doc. 48-1). After receiving a notice of right to sue letter issued by the EEOC, Radar filed a complaint in the District Court, Denver County, Colorado, on November 21, 2014, initiating this civil action which Ensign removed to this court on December 10, 2014. (Doc. 1).

The complaint alleges violations of the ADA, giving this court federal question jurisdiction, and a claim for breach of contract against Ensign together with a claim for tortious interference with employment relationship against Roeseler, individually. The defendant asks that these state law claims be adjudicated by the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

After full discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment of dismissal contending that Rader cannot produce admissible evidence sufficient to support a reasonable jury’s findings of facts material to these claims.

Upon review of the extensive exhibits and briefing filed by the parties, the following is a summary of the facts that are not disputed.

Rader began working for Ensign in July, 2006, as a floorhand on a drilling rig near Rifle, Colorado. He worked on other Ensign rigs in Colorado, Wyoming, Canada and North Dakota during the next four years. He worked in various positions.

In early 2012, Rig Manager Robert Winters promoted Rader to the position of Driller on Rig No. 153 in Wyoming. In June, 2012, Winters proposed firing Rader for insubordination but Drilling Superintendent K. L. Tipps changed the Personnel Action Form and transferred Rader to a motorhand position on Rig No. 145 near Dacono, Colorado. That was a temporary demotion because the driller position was not then open. Rig Manager, Roeseler, promoted Rader to Driller in August, 2012.

The Driller controls the rig, supervises a crew and is responsible for the completion of the tasks assigned by the Rig Manager.

The relationship between Rader and Roeseler was not harmonious. There are many factual disputes about their interaction that cannot be resolved on summary judgment. There are also many factual disputes about Rader’s work performance and his management of his crew members.

Important to this case is the undisputed fact that on Christmas Day, 2012, during the second shift, three members of the crew trying to connect the kill-line while the drilling equipment was under pressure were injured when a valve blew off.

Rader and all crews worked 12 hour shifts on a seven days on and seven days off schedule. Rader’s crew ended their seven days on Christmas Eve. Ensign contends that they should have attached the kill-line when they were stacking pipe during their shift. Rader testified that Roeseler told him that it was not necessary to do it at that time and that the Driller on the next shift knew that the attachment had not been made.

On the morning of December 31, 2012, Roeseler telephoned Rader at this home. Rader did not answer the phone but heard Roeseler leave a voice message saying that Rader’s services were no longer needed. Rader testified that when he called back to Roeseler to ask why, Roeseler said, “Well, Mr. Rader, you just killed three men.” Alarmed, Rader drove out to the rig and learned that no one was killed or seriously injured but Roeseler refused to talk about the termination.

Rader went to Hessler’s office in Denver on January 3, 2013, to try to get his job back. Hessler said that Rader could not go back to Rig No. 145 or be a Driller. Hessler offered a job on a rig in Pennsylvania. Rader declined that offer as a substantial demotion and he did not want to move his family from Colorado or be that far away from them.

On January 11, 2013, Hessler filled out a Personnel Action Form terminating Rader’s employment effective on that date for the stated reason, “Has been dealing with personal issues with health & home, wanted to quit.” Rader asked for a formal termination notice because he wanted the ...

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