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Murray v. Kindred Nursing Centers West LLC

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 10, 2015

DENISE MURRAY, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
KINDRED NURSING CENTERS WEST LLC, d/b/a Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Kennebunk, Defendant, Appellee

Page 21

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 22

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE. Hon. Jon D. Levy, U.S. District Judge.

Guy D. Loranger, with whom Law Office of Guy D. Loranger was on brief, for appellant.

James R. Erwin, with whom Michelle Y. Bush and Pierce Atwood LLP were on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Torruella and Selya, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 23

SELYA, Circuit Judge.

Denise Murray portrays herself as a whistleblower and charges that her quondam employer, Kindred Nursing Centers West LLC (Kindred), fired her on that account. Kindred denies this charge, asserting that it terminated Murray's employment for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason: suspected drug diversion. The district court assiduously sorted through the evidence supporting these dueling allegations and entered summary judgment in favor of Kindred. After careful consideration, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

We rehearse the relevant facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all reasonable inferences to her behoof. See Kearney v. Town of Wareham, 316 F.3d 18, 19 (1st Cir. 2002).

During the relevant time frame, Kindred operated a nursing facility in Kennebunk, Maine, offering short-term and long-term rehabilitation care. In March of 2011, Kindred hired Murray as a licensed practical nurse. On four occasions during the first three months of 2012, Murray claims to have reported concerns about one of her supervisors (a registered nurse whom we shall call Melissa Doe). According to Murray, Doe sometimes appeared to be under the influence of drugs while on duty and once had admitted taking a " Xanabar" before coming to work.[1] Murray also claims to have reported that Doe once asked to be the person assigned to " take care of" oxycodone that needed to be destroyed.

Murray claims to have made these reports to Kindred's director of nursing, Dawn Guptill, and Murray says that Guptill agreed to look into her allegations. In response to her last report, Murray says that Guptill " snapped" at her and stated " I will handle it my own way." Guptill denies much of Murray's account, and there is no written record either of Murray's complaints or of an investigation bye Guptill.

On March 9, 2012 (about a week after the fourth report), Guptill met with Bethany Gage (a nurse who worked at the facility). Gage informed Guptill that Murray had documented administering oxycodone (a powerful pain medication) to Resident 1 the previous day when, to Gage's knowledge, Resident 1 had not been in pain for quite some time.[2] Gage further noticed that Murray had documented administering oxycodone to Resident 1 on several occasions over the previous few weeks even though no other nurse had ...


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