Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Wrongful Employment Discharge Claim Allowed to Proceed Under Medical Marijuana Act

In the case of Laidacker v. Berwick Offray, No. 726-CV-2019  (C.P. Col. Co. Jan. 2, 2020 James, J.), the court overruled Preliminary Objections to a Complaint that was filed on the basis of an alleged Medical Marijuana Act violation.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff sued after the Defendant revoked an offer of employment to the Plaintiff after the Plaintiff tested positive for marijuana.  However, the Plaintiff was a valid medical marijuana patient.

The Plaintiff sued the employer for a violation of the Medical Marijuana Act and under a claim of wrongful discharge.

The Medical Marijuana Act contains specific provisions that prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or prospective employees who are valid Medical Marijuana patients.

The defense raised the issue in its Preliminary Objections as to whether a plaintiff could sue for money damages under the Medical Marijuana Act where the Act only allegedly provided for administrative remedies.

Although Judge James noted in his decision that this issue appeared to be one of first impression, he also noted in footnote 2 of his Opinion that Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas had issued a similar decision in the case of Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems.  The Tort Talk posts on the Palmiter case can be viewed HERE.

This decision appears to be the first one in which a Pennsylvania court has held that there is no conflict between the Medical Marijuana Act and federal law.

The decision is also noteworthy in that the court allowed punitive damages claim to proceed as well.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Matthew Mobilio of Mobilio Law in Allentown, PA for bringing this decision to my attention.

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