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Pedersen v. Bio-Medical Applications of Minn.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 6, 2015

Lisa Pedersen, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Bio-Medical Applications of Minnesota, doing business as Fresenius Medical Care, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted October 6, 2014.

Page 1050

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For Lisa Pedersen, Plaintiff - Appellant: Karin Ciano, Minneapolis, MN; Susan M. Coler, Clayton Dean Halunen, Kaarin S. Nelson, Joshua V. Socks, HALUNEN & ASSOCIATES, Minneapolis, MN.

For Bio-Medical Applications of Minnesota, doing business as Fresenius Medical Care, Defendant - Appellee: Rhiannon Camille Beckendorf, Marko Joseph Mrkonich, LITTLER & MENDELSON, Minneapolis, MN.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and BYE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1051

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Lisa Pedersen sued Bio-Medical Applications of Minnesota (BMA) under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA), Minnesota Statute § 181.932, alleging BMA took adverse employment actions against her after she reported the mishandling of blood samples and a cover-up by management. The district court[1] granted Bio-Medical's motion for summary judgment, concluding Pedersen failed to establish a prima facie case under the MWA. Pedersen appeals, and we affirm.

I

Pedersen began working for BMA, which operates dialysis clinics throughout Minnesota for individuals suffering from end stage renal disease, in 2007. After becoming a registered nurse, Pedersen could assess patients, work with physicians, and administer medication to patients. BMA does not employ its own team of physicians but contracts with physician groups for patient services at its clinics.

Part of BMA's treatment regimen for its patients involves monitoring certain components of patients' blood, which is assessed by drawing and analyzing blood samples from patients, and then administering medications based on the results. BMA draws patients' blood at their facilities and then sends the samples to an independent laboratory, Spectra Laboratories, Inc. (Spectra), for analysis. Spectra provides shipping instructions for the blood samples, including the size of box to use and the number of ice packages to include to keep the blood samples below a certain temperature. On the morning of April 12, 2012, when Pedersen reported to work, she learned a box of blood samples had been left in the clinic's front lobby overnight, packed with ice packages but in the wrong type of shipping box. Another employee, a patient care technician, had discovered the blood samples prior to Pedersen arriving at the clinic, touched the vials to ensure the samples were still cool, repackaged them in the correct package, and sent them to Spectra.

Because the blood samples had been incorrectly packaged, Pedersen believed the samples may have been compromised. After Spectra processed the samples and returned the results to BMA, however, a registered nurse reviewed the results and determined none of the samples were abnormal. This nurse reported the results to Joelle Ince, the clinic manager, who was responsible for day-to-day operations of the clinic. Ince learned the blood samples had been packaged incorrectly the previous day when she spoke with the patient care technician who originally discovered the blood samples. Pedersen did not make a report about the blood samples to Ince. When Ince became aware of the incident, she notified her area manager, Celestine Kienzle, who had broad ...


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