Minnesota Medic Claims Whistleblower Retaliation

A Minnesota paramedic who resigned last year has filed suit in federal court alleging he was retaliated against for reporting the falsification of EMS training attendance records and because he refused a police sergeant’s direction to administer ketamine to a patient. Joseph Paul Baker filed suit last week naming the City of Woodbury, Fire Chief John Wallgren, Fire Commander Chris Klein, and EMS Commander J. B. Guiton.

According to Baker, he complained about “irregularities with paramedic certification training records” in Woodbury, culminating in him bringing the matter to attention of the Minnesota EMS Medical Director and Executive Chairman of the State’s EMS regulatory board. He also claims that on September 22, 2019, a police sergeant directed him to violate EMS protocols by injecting a patient with ketamine.

  • On or about September 22, 2019, Sergeant Ehrenberg along with other police officers pressured Plaintiff Baker to administer Ketamine on a Woodbury citizen.
  • Plaintiff Baker believed than that injecting the citizen with Ketamine would have deviate from the standard of care expected from a reasonable paramedic and that the action would have violated federal, state, and regulatory laws.
  • Though it was not part of his job to lodge a complaint against a police sergeant, Plaintiff Baker reported the matter to the leadership team named above because he was concerned as a citizen.
  • He was also aware of the public outcry against police officers for compelling paramedics to administer sedatives upon unwilling citizens.
  • Sergeant Ehrenberg specifically ordered Plaintiff Baker to “draw up” Ketamine to inject a citizen of the City of Woodbury wrongfully. Plaintiff Baker refused Sergeant Ehrenberg’s order and defended his actions with the EMS leadership team and human resources personnel.
  • Plaintiff Baker was also concerned at the time that some of the officers involved, particularly Sergeant Ehrenberg, were not listed on the City of Woodbury’s list of paramedics.
  • Sergeant Ehrenberg told Plaintiff Baker at the scene that as a sergeant he was not functioning as a paramedic.
  • Hence, Sergeant Ehrenberg should not have ordered Plaintiff Baker to administer Ketamine on Plaintiff Baker’s patient because Sergeant Ehrenberg was functioning as a police sergeant and not a paramedic.

Thereafter, Baker claims he was threatened with violence, retaliated against, disciplined, placed on a performance improvement program, and was in the process of being set-up for dismissal, when he had no choice but to quit. The complaint alleges 42 U.S.C. §1983 violation of his First Amendment Rights, due process rights (Monell), and a violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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