Jaime Tuite and Tiffany Jenca, Shareholder and Associate in Buchanan's Labor and Employment section, successfully persuaded a Third Circuit panel to overturn a $1 million jury verdict and enter judgment in favor of clients Geisinger Medical Center and Arthur Richer.
The case involved a former Bloomsburg University student who sued Geisinger Medical Center and its employee, Richer, after she was fired from a hospital training program because she refused to take a drug test. The student claimed her constitutional civil rights were violated because she was not granted a hearing to fight her termination, and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania agreed – granting summary judgment in her favor. A jury then awarded the student over $1 million in damages.
Jaime and Tiffany represented Geisinger and Richer in appealing the decision. Among other things, the pair argued – in brief and at oral argument – that neither Geisinger nor Richer could be properly characterized as state actors for purposes of constitutional liability. The appellate court agreed. In a precedential published opinion, published August 30, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the District Court's decision and held that Geisinger Medical Center and Arthur Richer were entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law. Defendants were relieved of all liability.
Read more about the case in Law360's article "3rd Circ. Overturns $1M Award in Suit Against Pa. Hospital" and in PA Penn Live: "U.S. Court Nixes $1M Damage Award to Medical Student Who Refused to Take Drug Test." A copy of the opinion is available here.