Humenansky v. Minnesota Bd. of Medical Examiners, C5-94-1090

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
Citation525 N.W.2d 559
Docket NumberNo. C5-94-1090,C5-94-1090
Parties6 NDLR P 53 Dr. Diane Bay HUMENANSKY, Appellant, v. The MINNESOTA BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, etc., et al., Respondents.
Decision Date20 December 1994

Syllabus by the Court

An allegation of "irreparable loss of privacy" fails to demonstrate irreparable harm sufficient to support a claim for temporary injunctive relief. Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) (1992) does not violate either the Minnesota or the United States Constitutions.

Philip G. Villaume, Bloomington, for appellant.

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Atty. Gen., Jacquelyn E. Albright, Asst. Atty. Gen., St. Paul, for respondents.

Page 562

Considered and decided by SHORT, P.J., and KALITOWSKI, and JONES *, JJ.


SHORT, Judge.

This case questions the authority of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice ("board") to require a licensed physician to submit to an examination under Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) (1992). On appeal from the trial court's denial of her request for temporary injunctive relief, Dr. Diane Humenansky argues: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that an examination would cause her inconvenience but not irreparable harm; and (2) Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) is unconstitutionally vague and violates her constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches, to due process of law, and to privacy.


Humenansky is a duly licensed psychiatrist in Minnesota and is subject to the board's jurisdiction. The board received twelve disciplinary complaints against Humenansky alleging nine different grounds for disciplinary action. Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 1(f), (g), (k), (l ), (m), (q), (r), (s), (t) (1992).

Pursuant to Minn.Stat. § 214.10, subd. 1 (1992), the board asked the Minnesota Attorney General to conduct an investigation into Humenansky's practice of medicine. The Complaint Review Committee ("committee"), composed of three board members and a designee from the attorney general's office, conducted an initial investigation and held a conference with Humenansky. See Minn.Stat. § 214.103, subd. 6(a) (attempts at resolution). In June 1992, the committee found probable cause to believe Humenansky could not practice medicine with reasonable skill and assure her patients' safety; therefore, it ordered Humenansky to submit to a mental and physical examination.

Humenansky asked the board to postpone her examination so she could address the committee's complaints about her treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder patients. The board agreed and Humenansky met with the committee. Following that meeting, the board asked a psychiatric expert to review the committee's investigation into Humenansky's practice. The expert concluded Humenansky's "personal and loose responses to questions, the disorganized rambling discharge summaries, her inconsistency with patient care, her repeated significant and dangerous boundary problems pose serious threats to respectful, consistent, noninjurious patient care." The expert recommended Humenansky undergo both a psychiatric evaluation and psychological testing.

In January 1994, the board again ordered Humenansky to submit to a mental and physical examination. Humenansky sued the board, its executive director, and the state, asking the trial court to enjoin the board's order and to declare Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) (1992) (authorizing mental examination and access to medical data) unconstitutional. In March, the trial court temporarily restrained implementation of the board's order and demanded clarification regarding the nature of the tests to be performed on Humenansky. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied Humenansky's request for a temporary injunction and upheld the statute's constitutionality.


I. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying Humenansky's request for temporary injunctive relief?

II. Is Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) (1992) constitutional?


If the board has probable cause to believe that a physician is unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients because of a mental or physical condition, the board may direct the physician to submit to a mental or physical examination. Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) (1992). The statute provides in relevant part:

Page 563

For the purpose of this subdivision every physician licensed under this chapter is deemed to have consented to submit to a mental or physical examination when directed in writing by the board and further to have waived all objections to the admissibility of the examining physicians' testimony or examination reports on the ground that the same constitute a privileged communication.

Id. As a condition of licensure in Minnesota, Humenansky gave her consent to a board-directed examination. A majority of states have similar licensure requirements. 1 By this lawsuit, Humenansky challenges Minnesota's implied consent law for examination of physicians.


In deciding whether to grant a temporary injunction, the trial court must consider the following five factors: the relationship of the parties, the relative harm to the parties if the injunction is granted or denied, the likelihood of success on the merits, public policies expressed in the statutes, and the administrative burdens involved in supervising and enforcing the decree. Dahlberg Bros., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 272 Minn. 264, 274-75, 137 N.W.2d 314, 321-22 (1965). A decision on whether to grant a temporary injunction is left to the trial court's sound discretion and will not be overturned on appeal absent a clear abuse of that discretion. Carl Bolander & Sons Co. v. City of Mpls., 502 N.W.2d 203, 209 (Minn.1993); Eakman v. Brutger, 285 N.W.2d 95, 97 (Minn.1979). The trial court applied the Dahlberg criteria and concluded that Humenansky had failed to show any irreparable harm. See AMF Pinspotters, Inc. v. Harkins Bowling, Inc., 260 Minn. 499, 504, 110 N.W.2d 348, 351 (1961) (party seeking relief has heavy burden of proof regarding need for relief); Morse v. City of Waterville, 458 N.W.2d 728, 729 (Minn.App.1990) (the moving party's failure to demonstrate irreparable harm is reason to deny injunctive relief), pet. for rev. denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1990).

According to Humenansky, a free-wheeling investigative examination of her mind and body will cause her to suffer irreparable harm. See In re Agerter, 353 N.W.2d 908, 913 (Minn.1984) (right of privacy protects judge from obligation to disclose information about sex life). But the record demonstrates that the examination of Humenansky: (1) will be conducted according to Minnesota's Patients' Bill of Rights, Minn.Stat. §§ 144.651, .652 (1992 & Supp.1993), which allows rights such as sign-out privileges, access to visitors, and the use of a telephone; (2) will require her consent to every aspect of the examination and each test performed; (3) will be administered by licensed professionals who are bound by standards of practice and ethical canons; and (4) will be limited by Minn.Stat. § 214.103, subds. 2, 5 (Supp.1993) to matters relating to the complaints filed against her. Under these circumstances, Humenansky's statement that she will suffer "irreparable loss of privacy and autonomy over her private thoughts" is not enough to demonstrate irreparable

Page 564

harm and support her claim for injunctive relief. We cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Humenansky's request for temporary injunctive relief

One who challenges the constitutionality of a statute must overcome every presumption in favor of its constitutionality. Miller Brewing Co. v. State, 284 N.W.2d 353, 356 (Minn.1979); see Minn.Stat. § 645.17(3) (1992) (courts presume the legislature did not intend to violate the constitution of the United States or of this state). An appellate court's power to declare a statute unconstitutional is to be exercised only when absolutely necessary and then with extreme caution. In re Haggerty, 448 N.W.2d 363, 364 (Minn.1989). We are not bound by the trial court's conclusions about a statute's constitutionality. In re Blilie, 494 N.W.2d 877, 881 (Minn.1993).

Humenansky seeks a declaration that Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 6(a) violates the Minnesota and the United States Constitutions. Humenansky asserts that the statute, on its face, is unconstitutionally vague. She also argues that the statute, as applied, violates her rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. U.S. Const. amends. IV, V, IX, XIV; see also Minn. Const. art. I, §§ 7, 10, 16 (freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, right to due process of law, and privacy rights).

A. Vagueness

A statute is void due to vagueness if it defines the forbidden or required act or acts in terms so vague that individuals must guess at its meaning, or it defines an act in a manner that encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 357, 103 S.Ct. 1855, 1858, 75 L.Ed.2d 903 (1983); Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360, 367, 84 S.Ct. 1316, 1320, 12 L.Ed.2d 377 (1964); State v. Newstrom, 371 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn.1985). A statute should not be invalidated as vague merely because it is possible to imagine some difficulty in determining whether certain marginal fact situations fall within its language. United States v. National Dairy Prods. Corp., 372 U.S. 29, 32, 83 S.Ct. 594, 597, 9 L.Ed.2d 561 (1963).

Humenansky does not claim the statute in question invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Rather she argues the statute fails to define "mental condition" and permits the board to focus on her "mental condition" rather than her "conduct" in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 12101-12213 (West Supp.1994). But Minn.Stat. § 147.091, subd. 1(l ) (1992) authorizes licensure action in response to specific conduct; the central inquiry is whether the physician can...

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