Beiser v. Tomball Hosp. Authority, 01-94-00223-CV

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Citation902 S.W.2d 721
Docket NumberNo. 01-94-00223-CV,01-94-00223-CV
PartiesJohn BEISER, Appellant, v. TOMBALL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY d/b/a Tomball Regional Hospital, Appellee. (1st Dist.)
Decision Date29 June 1995

Page 721

902 S.W.2d 721
John BEISER, Appellant,
TOMBALL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY d/b/a Tomball Regional Hospital, Appellee.
No. 01-94-00223-CV.
Court of Appeals of Texas,
Houston (1st Dist.).
June 29, 1995.
Rehearing Overruled July 27, 1995.

Page 722

Dennis G. Herlong, Houston, for appellant.

Thomas H. Wilson, Houston, Anne M. Pike, Houston, for appellee.



ANDELL, Justice.

Appellee Tomball Hospital Authority d/b/a Tomball Regional Hospital (TRH), moves the Court to rehear appellant, John Beiser's appeal. We overrule the motion for rehearing, but substitute the following opinion in place of our initial one.

This appeal arises from a take-nothing summary judgment against Mr. Beiser in his suit against TRH in which he alleged violations of the Texas Whistleblower Act, 1 as well as the intentional infliction of emotional distress upon termination of his at-will employment.

Factual Background

When reviewing a summary judgment, we take as true the evidence favorable to the non-movant, and in its favor resolve any doubts, as well as indulge every reasonable inference. MMP, Ltd. v. Jones, 710 S.W.2d

Page 723

59, 60 (Tex.1986). Viewed in this light, the summary judgment record shows the following. Mr. Beiser, a 55-year old lab technician, in his suit against TRH, asserted that he discovered on November 11, 1992, that TRH was storing patient blood samples and donor units of blood in violation of regulations promulgated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Mr. Beiser reported the improper storage to his supervisor, Valerie Foley, and urged her to report the potential contamination of the blood units to the appropriate authorities.

When reprimanded for a different matter on March 29, 1993, Mr. Beiser informed Foley that he had reported the improper blood storage to the FDA. On March 31, 1993, in a meeting with Foley, Judy Weir, TRH's director of human resources, and Dr. Watson, laboratory director, TRH terminated Mr. Beiser's employment. He was given a four-page memo saying why he was fired and telling him to call Tom Nealon, TRH's executive vice-president, the next day. Although Mr. Beiser called Mr. Nealon the next day, Mr. Nealon did not return his phone call.

On June 29, 1993, through his counsel, Mr. Beiser notified TRH that his termination violated the whistleblower statute, that he invoked TRH's grievance procedure, and that TRH had 30 days during which to conclude any such procedures, after which he would file suit. In a letter dated July 19, 1993, TRH's attorney responded by inviting appellant to make use of the hospital's grievance procedure.

Mr. Beiser's counsel responded to TRH's letter with a letter dated July 23, 1993. It noted that TRH had waited three weeks to respond to Mr. Beiser's June 29th letter. It stated that the one-page "Grievance Procedure" attached to the July 23 letter, by its own terms, applied only to current employees. The letter stated that Mr. Beiser had already met the steps of the grievance procedure in the meeting culminating in his termination by meeting with Foley, Weir, and Dr. Watson, but that if TRH really thought that he had not complied with the grievance procedure, to immediately set up a meeting between TRH, its attorney, himself, and his attorney. The letter asked that since TRH was inviting Mr. Beiser to go through the grievance procedure again, that TRH give a written agreement that Mr. Beiser had not waived his right to pursue the grievance and that Mr. Beiser's delay in filing suit to allow time to follow the grievance procedure would toll the statute of limitations until the procedure was concluded.

TRH responded by letter, dated July 28, 1993, inquiring about the possibility of a meeting between Mr. Beiser and his counsel and TRH's counsel and Foley on July 30, 1993, as a first step in Mr. Beiser's post-termination grievance process.

Mr. Beiser filed suit against TRH on July 29, 1993, the 120th day after he was terminated.

TRH requested summary judgment on Mr. Beiser's whistleblower claim on the grounds that he either (1) failed to file his claim within the applicable limitations period provided by the statute, or (2) did not, as required by the statute, exhaust the grievance procedure applicable to him. 2 On Mr. Beiser's

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intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, TRH requested summary judgment on the ground that termination of employment, as a matter of law, does not rise to the level of outrageousness required for such a claim.

The trial court granted TRH's motion for summary judgment, stating: "The Court finds there are no material issues of fact on Plaintiff's claims for retaliation under Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann. art. 6252-16a and for intentional infliction of emotional distress under Texas law."

Mr. Beiser brings one point of error with the following pertinent subparts:


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