Friday, May 29, 2009

Hailey man sues over drug test

St. Luke’s, Ketchum firm and drug lab named as defendants

Express Staff Writer

James D. Parker

A Hailey man has filed a lawsuit against two St. Luke's hospital entities and a drug testing laboratory in Tennessee, alleging that erroneous drug testing results cost him his job at a Ketchum business.

James D. Parker filed the lawsuit on May 15 in Blaine County 5th District Court. Named as defendants are St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls and Concentra Laboratory. The lawsuit states that Concentra is a "foreign corporation" doing business in the United States as Advanced Toxicology Network in Memphis.

Anderson Insulation, the Ketchum company that terminated Parker's employment last December, was originally named as a defendant but was dismissed from the lawsuit in a motion filed by Parker on May 22.

Parker told the Idaho Mountain Express on Thursday that he is required by law to go through a mediation process with Anderson Insulation, but that the company can be reinstated to the lawsuit if an agreement is not reached. A mediation session between Parker and Anderson Insulation is scheduled for June 9.

"I'm trying to work it out. I'm trying to be nice about it," Anderson Insulation owner Jeff Anderson said Thursday. "I feel like I'm a victim of the process myself.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Anderson said. "I'm trying to do what's right and have a clean workplace. We're trying to resolve this in an amicable way. I have nothing against Mr. Parker."

Parker, who is represented by Twin Falls attorney Jeffrey J. Hepworth, alleged in the lawsuit, and will allege in mediation, that Anderson Insulation should have reinstated him to his job as an operations manager when the company learned on Jan. 27 that the results of the first drug test were flawed. Parker also alleges that he should have received back wages.

The lawsuit states that Parker was hired by Anderson Insulation on Dec. 16, 2008. On the same day Parker provided a urine sample as required at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center. The sample was sent to Advanced Toxicology Network for testing. Two days later, Parker and Anderson Insulation were notified by St. Luke's Magic Valley Regional Medical Center that the sample tested positive at a high level for opiates.

Parker alleges that St. Luke's failed to ensure that a retest was properly conducted. Instead, he says, results from the first test were given a second time to Anderson Insulation. Parker was then fired.

Parker passed later tests on the same urine sample at both Advanced Toxicology Network and at a separate laboratory in Spokane, Wash.

Parker alleges that Advanced Toxicology Network contaminated his first test and accuses the laboratory of "negligent and reckless conduct." He accuses the St. Luke's entities of "gross negligence" for not following "proper drug testing protocols."

Comment was not available by press deadline Thursday from either St. Luke's entities or from Advanced Toxicology Network.

Parker provided documentation to the Idaho Mountain Express in March that states that the initial drug test results were not consistent with later tests of the same sample.

Parker claims in the lawsuit that he suffered at least $40,000 in damages. He is also seeking damages for "pain, suffering, emotional distress, lost enjoyment of life, humiliation and loss of reputation."

"I'm not going to let this go," Parker said. "If it's the good fight, I'll fight it to the end. I want all those folks to know that I'm not giving up on this."

Terry Smith:

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