Clayton D. Halunen, Kaarin Nelson Schaffer, Stephen M. Premo,
Halunen Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Steven Andrew Smith,
Matthew A. Frank, Nichols Kaster, PLLP, Minneapolis,
Minnesota; and Adam W. Hansen, Apollo Law, LLC, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for appellant.
P. Pearson, Thomas H. Boyd, Reid J. Golden, Winthrop &
Weinstine, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondents.
L. Van Dyck, Van Dyck Law Firm, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
for amicus curiae Minnesota Association for Justice.
Frances E. Baillon, Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta, LLP,
Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Phillip Kitzer, Brian Rochel,
Douglas A. Micko, Teske Micko Katz Kitzer & Rochel, PLLP,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae National Employment
Lawyers Association-Minnesota Chapter.
L. Lienemann, Culberth & Lienemann, LLP, Saint Paul,
Minnesota; and Justin D. Cummins, Cummins & Cummins, LLP,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Employee Lawyers
Association of the Upper-Midwest.
J. Mrkonich, Holly M. Robbins, Joseph D. Weiner, Littler
Mendelson, P.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amici curiae
United States Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Chamber of
2013 amendment to the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, Minn.
Stat. §§ 181.931-.935 (2016), defining the phrase
"good faith, " eliminated the judicially created
requirement that a putative whistleblower act with the
purpose of exposing an illegality.
question answered in the affirmative.
GILDEA, Chief Justice.
case presents a question the United States District Court for
the District of Minnesota certified to us. We are asked to
decide whether "the 2013 amendment to the Minnesota
Whistleblower Act defining the term 'good faith' to
mean 'conduct that does not violate section 181.932,
subdivision 3' eliminate[s] the judicially created
requirement that the putative whistleblower act with the
purpose of 'exposing an illegality.' " Because
we conclude that the 2013 amendment abrogates our prior
interpretation of "good faith, " we answer the
certified question in the affirmative.
James Friedlander alleges that during his employment with
respondents Edwards Lifesciences Corporation and Edwards
Lifesciences, LLC (collectively "Edwards
Lifesciences"), his superiors engaged in violations of
law, including breach of contract, breach of the duty of good
faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, and
violations of California's Unfair Competition Law, Cal.
Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200-17210 (West 2017).
Friedlander claims that he expressed his concern about these
practices to his superiors and others within the company. The
parties do not dispute that those who were told about
Friedlander's concern already knew about the conduct in
question. After Friedlander reported his concern, Edwards
Lifesciences terminated his employment.
complaint, which he filed in the United States District Court
for the District of Minnesota, Friedlander alleges that
Edwards Lifesciences wrongfully terminated his employment, in
violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. Minn. Stat.
§§ 181.931-.935 (2016). Edwards Lifesciences moved
for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that it could not have
violated the Act because Friedlander did not "blow the
whistle." Specifically, Edwards Lifesciences argued that
because Friedlander made his report only to people who
already knew about the allegedly unlawful conduct, his report
was not protected conduct under the Act. Edwards Lifesciences
bases this argument on our interpretation of the Act in
Obst v. Microtron, Inc., 614 N.W.2d 196, 202 (Minn.
2000), in which we held that "good faith" requires
a putative whistleblower to act with the purpose of exposing
an illegality. Friedlander contends that Obst is no
longer good law following a 2013 amendment to the Act, which
defines the phrase "good faith" to exclude
"statements or ...