This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Laurie Ann Dornquast,





Commissioner of Health,



Filed August 9, 2005


Kalitowski, Judge


Department of Health

Appleton Municipal Hospital ID 00655


Laurie Ann Dornquast, P.O. Box 104, Alberta, MN 56207 (pro se relator)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Jocelyn F. Olson, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1200, St. Paul, MN 55101-2130 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator Laurie Ann Dornquast challenges the decision of the Commissioner of Health denying her request to set aside her disqualification from positions requiring her to provide direct care in facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health.  We affirm.



            This court reviews whether an administrative decision is supported by substantial evidence or arbitrary and capricious.  In re Excess Surplus Status of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minn., 624 N.W.2d 264, 277 (Minn. 2001); Johnson v. Comm’r of Health,671 N.W.2d 921, 923 (Minn. App. 2003).  “‘Substantial evidence’ is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”  Urban Council on Mobility v. Minn. Dep’t of Natural Res., 289 N.W.2d 729, 733 (Minn. 1980).  And an agency’s conclusions “are not arbitrary and capricious so long as a ‘rational connection between the facts found and the choice made’ has been articulated.”  In re Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 624 N.W.2d at 277 (quoting Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 156, 168, 83 S. Ct. 239, 246 (1962)).

            An individual who has been disqualified from performing direct care services in facilities licensed by the Department of Health may request that the Commissioner of Health (Commissioner) reconsider the disqualification.  Minn. Stat. § 245C.21, subd. 1 (2004).  And the Commissioner can rescind the disqualification if the Commissioner finds that the disqualification relied on incorrect information or set aside the disqualification if the Commissioner finds that the individual has submitted sufficient information to show that the individual does not pose a risk of harm to any person served.  Minn. Stat. § 245C.22, subds. 2, 4 (2004).  In determining whether an individual poses a risk of harm, the Commissioner is required to place the interest in the safety of patients above the interests of the individual requesting reconsideration.  Id., subd. 3 (2004).

            Under Minn. Stat. § 245C.22, subd. 4(b), in evaluating whether the individual poses a risk of harm, the Commissioner must consider the following factors:

(1)the nature, severity, and consequences of the event or events that led to the disqualification;

(2)whether there is more than one disqualifying event;

(3)the age and vulnerability of the victim at the time of the event;

(4)the harm suffered by the victim;

(5)the similarity between the victim and persons served by the program;

(6)the time elapsed without a repeat of a same or similar event;

(7)documentation of successful completion by the individual studied of training or rehabilitation pertinent to the event; and

(8)any other information relevant to reconsideration.


Moreover, “any single factor under subdivision 4, paragraph (b), may be determinative of the commissioner’s decision whether to set aside the individual’s disqualification.”  Id., subd. 3.

            The Commissioner properly considered the statutory criteria in determining that relator posed a risk of harm.  The Commissioner found relator’s mistreatment of her children to be intentional and likely resulting in harm.  And the victims, relator’s children, were young and “[v]ery vulnerable” and suffered some damage from relator’s mistreatment.  The population relator served was similarly vulnerable.  Finally, relator’s disqualifying event was recent.

            In seeking reconsideration of her disqualification, relator had the burden to establish that she posed no risk of harm to any person in her care at the licensed facility.  Relator submitted letters from her supervisor at the nursing home and her probation officer, which noted that relator was competent, met her duties, and complied with conditions for probation.  And relator asserted that she was placed on probation on August 15, 2003, under a stay of adjudication and complied with all conditions of probation. 

            But the Commissioner based relator’s disqualification on evidence that relator failed to comply with a county plan to return her children to her after they were placed in foster care.  And relator’s parental rights were terminated approximately nine months before relator’s disqualification because she neglected to care for her children’s needs, she was “palpably unfit” to parent, the county’s reasonable efforts failed to correct the conditions leading to her children’s placement from the home, and the children were neglected and in foster care.

            In light of the statutory factors the Commissioner must consider, we conclude that substantial evidence supports the Commissioner’s decision that relator did pose a risk of harm to persons in her care under Minn. Stat. § 245C.22, subd. 4.  Therefore, we affirm the Commissioner’s decision not to set aside relator’s disqualification.


*  Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.