Appeals court sides with Geisinger, reverses $1M damage award to nursing student who refused to take drug test

A federal appeals court decision issued Wednesday relieved Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Medical Center and two hospital officials of any legal or monetary obligation to a former student who filed a lawsuit after being fired from the hospital's training program for refusing to take a drug test, according to PennLive.

Here are five things to know.

1. Angela Borrell was formerly enrolled in Bloomsburg (Pa.) University and Geisinger's joint nurse anesthetist training program. She was fired from the program in September 2012 and filed a lawsuit against the hospital and university a month later, claiming the firing violated her civil rights because she was not permitted the opportunity to contest it, according to a 2015 report from the Times Leader.

2. The jury relieved Bloomsburg University of financial obligations to Ms. Borrell, as the decision to dismiss her was made by Geisinger. However, jurors found Geisinger liable for $1.1 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff, according to the Times Leader.

3. In the appeal court opinion issued Wednesday, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman wrote Geisinger ordered Ms. Borrell to take a drug test after a nurse reported Ms. Borrell had used cocaine, according to PennLive.

4. The hospital requires employees to submit to drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion of drug abuse. Additionally, the hospital does not allow for hearings after an employee is fired for refusing to take a drug test. After she was fired, Ms. Borrell offered to take a drug test, but Geisinger denied the request.

5. The appeals court determined there was no legal basis to conclude that Geisinger and its officials breached any established federal law.

"Although many cases have concluded that graduate students at public universities have property interests in continuing their education, those cases do not speak to the right of a clinical student at a private hospital to a hearing or comparable process before termination, even if the natural consequence of that termination is an inability to complete an educational program," wrote Mr. Hardiman, according to PennLive.

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