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City fails to prove urine sample arrived at lab with seal intact

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the finding that a city of Gary employee was discharged but not for just cause. The judges pointed to incomplete paperwork regarding an on-site screen custody form.

Guadalupe Franco, an electro-mechanic for the city of Gary’s Sanitary District, was injured on the job and received treatment at Comprehensive Care. While there, he received an injection for pain and provided a urine sample for drug testing. The on-site screening custody form contains instructions and files to be completed in six steps – with the sixth step completed by MedTox, where the urine sample was sent for further testing after it came back “non-negative” for cocaine metabolite.

The sample was tested at MedTox, which also received a positive result for cocaine. But MedTox did not complete the sixth step on the form which provided a field for the date and a signature from the lab; the lab did, however, generate a report that contained matching numbers as found on the custody form, listed the tests required and identified the sample as Franco’s.

The city fired Franco and he sought unemployment benefits. He disputed the drug test results, claiming he never took the drug and has never had a positive drug test during the time he worked for the city. The administrative law judge ruled in favor of Franco and the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development affirmed 2-1.

“Given the fact that relevant fields of steps five and six were not completed, the importance of these steps in the chain of custody, and the serious consequence for an employee of a positive drug test result, we decline to infer, from the fact that test results identifying Franco were sent by MedTox to Comprehensive Care, that the seal must have been intact and that the City met its burden with respect to the chain of custody,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in City of Gary v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Guadalupe T. Franco, 93A02-1312-EX-1016. “This does not have the effect of imposing an impossible burden on the City as it could have produced a copy of the custody form with the relevant fields completed or the testimony or an affidavit of the persons who received, checked the seal of, and tested Franco’s sample. The City bore the initial burden of establishing that Franco was terminated for just cause.”

“The deputy, the ALJ, and the Board concluded sufficient information had not been provided to sustain the City’s burden of proof or to show the chain of custody was reliable. There is sufficient evidence to support the Board’s findings and sufficient facts to support its decision, and we cannot say the Board’s conclusion is unreasonable.”

 

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  1. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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