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Pillatzki v. Commissioner of Health

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

July 15, 2013

Susan Marie Pillatzki, Relator,
v.
Commissioner of Health, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Minnesota Department of Health Health Facility ID: 00329

Gregory P. Grajczyk, Boos & Grajczyk, LLP, Milbank, South Dakota (for relator)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, David Franklin Strohkirch, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Cleary, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.

Klaphake, Judge [*]

Relator Susan Marie Pillatzki challenges respondent Commissioner of Health's (commissioner) denial of relator's request to set aside her disqualification from working in a position allowing direct contact or access to persons receiving services at state-licensed health-care facilities. Relator argues that the commissioner erred because her position as a dietary aide involved no direct contact with the residents of Madison Lutheran Home and she presents no substantial risk to vulnerable adults. We affirm.

DECISION

The commissioner's decision about a request for reconsideration of a disqualification is a quasi-judicial decision subject to certiorari review. Anderson v. Comm'r of Health, 811 N.W.2d 162, 165 (Minn.App. 2012), review denied (Minn. Apr. 17, 2012). We "review questions affecting the jurisdiction of the agency, the regularity of its proceedings, and, as to the merits of the controversy, whether the order or determination in a particular case was arbitrary, oppressive, unreasonable, fraudulent, under an erroneous theory of law, or without any evidence to support it." Id. (quotation omitted).

The commissioner is required to contract with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to conduct background studies of all employees in state-licensed nursing homes. Minn. Stat. § 144.057, subd. 1(3) (2012). If an employee is disqualified, he or she is disqualified "from positions allowing direct contact or access to patients or residents receiving services." Id.

DHS must conduct these background studies "in compliance with the provisions of chapter 245C." Id., subd. 2 (2012). Under chapter 245C, DHS reviews information from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and must disqualify the employee from a position allowing direct contact for 15 years if the employee has been convicted of certain enumerated crimes. Minn. Stat. §§ 245C.08, subd. 1(a)(4), .14, subd. 1(a)(1), .15, subd. 2 (2012). That list includes all theft crimes. See Minn. Stat. § 245C.15, subd. 2 (requiring disqualification of an employee convicted of theft under Minn. Stat. § 609.52 (2012)).

The commissioner may set aside this type of disqualification if he "finds that the individual has submitted sufficient information to demonstrate that the individual does not pose a risk of harm." Minn. Stat. § 245C.22, subd. 4(a) (2012). To determine whether the employee has met this burden of proof, the commissioner shall consider nine factors:

(1) the nature, severity, and consequences of the event or events that led to ...

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