Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court affirming the decision and order of the Board of Registration in Medicine suspending Petitioner's license to practice medicine, holding that the Board's decision was supported by the evidence and was not legally erroneous, procedurally defective, or arbitrary or capricious.A magistrate concluded that Petitioner was subject to discipline by the Board because his disruptive behavior on two separate occasions amounted to misconduct and demonstrated that Petitioner engaged in conduct that undermined the public confidence in the integrity of the medical profession. The Board adopted the findings and conclusions of the magistrate and concluded that Petitioner's actions warranted an indefinite suspension of his license to practice medicine. The single justice affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board's decision was supported by the evidence, and (2) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that the decision was legally erroneous, procedurally defective, or arbitrary and capricious. View "Schwartz v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Registration suspending Physician's license to practice medicine on the basis that Physician violated 243 Code Mass. Regs. 2.07(11)(a)(1), holding that the Board's findings that Physician violated the Board's regulations were supported by substantial evidence and that the decision was not arbitrary or capricious.The Board initiated a formal adjudicatory proceeding against Physician, after which a magistrate found that Physician had violated 243 Code Mass. Regs. 2.07(11)(a), which prohibits advertising that is false, deceptive, or misleading, and also violated 243 Code Mass. Regs. 1.03(5)(a)(10). The Board adopted the magistrate's findings of fact and conclusions of law and issued an indefinite suspension of Physician's license to practice medicine. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board's regulations do not offend due process; (2) the Board's findings were supported by substantial evidence; and (3) neither the findings nor the sanction imposed were arbitrary or capricious. View "Welter v. Bd. of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) and the Committee of Credentials of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Committee) appealed a judgment and peremptory writ of prohibition directing them to discontinue certain investigative proceedings against present and former public school administrators Kathy Little, Simone Kovats, and Debra Sather (together, the administrators). The Committee commenced an initial review of the administrators’ fitness to continue as credential holders in 2019. Nonparty John Villani was a special education teacher employed by the District between 2011 and 2014. Villani sued the District in 2016 alleging the District unlawfully retaliated against him after he reported that a teacher-aide, David Yoder, was “grooming” and paying inappropriate attention to some of the minor students in his care. Yoder was subsequently charged and convicted of several felony sex offenses against minors, including an offense against one of the aforementioned students. As relevant here, Villani’s lawsuit also alleged the administrators ignored his concerns about Yoder. The Commission learned about Villani’s lawsuit from a news article; the Commission thereafter launched its investigation. The administrators objected to the manner in which the Commission had obtained documents and information from Villani and argued the Committee had not established jurisdiction to review their credentials. The administrators demanded the Commission cease the investigation and the Committee drop the scheduled meetings. The Commission and Committee argued the trial court erred in ruling the administrators were excused from exhausting administrative remedies and misinterpreted Education Code section 44242.5, which defined the scope of the Committee’s jurisdiction. Finding no error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment and writ. View "Little v. Com. on Teacher Credentialing" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of disclosing confidential information in violation of Ohio Rev. Code 102.03(B), holding that a person who is subject to the jurisdiction of the Ohio Ethics Commission (Commission) may be criminally prosecuted for a violation of section 102.03(B) without the Commission first investigating or prosecuting the charge.Defendant, a sheriff, was found guilty of violating section 102.03(B), a provision of Ohio's ethics law, for posting confidential information on the website of the sheriff's office. At issue on appeal was whether a criminal prosecution may be brought alleging a violation of section 102.03(B) without a prior review of the charges by the Commission. The court of appeals held that the trial court properly refused to dismiss the charges against Defendant on these grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that prosecutions may be brought by a prosecuting authority before the Commission initiates or completes its investigation. View "State v. Towns" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court affirming a decision of the Board of Registration in Podiatry that revoked Thomas Franchini's license to practice podiatry in Massachusetts, holding that the Board's decision was not arbitrary or capricious, was supported by substantial evidence, and did not suffer from any other defect enumerated under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 30A, 14(7).A hearings officer found that Franchini knowingly made certain false and misleading statements in his licensure application and recommended that the Board impose disciplinary sanctions. The Board largely adopted the hearing officer's decision, finding that Franchini engaged in gross misconduct such as to call into question Franchini's ability to practice podiatry, dishonesty, fraud, or deceit, and knowingly making false statements in his application to the Board. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Franchini should be subject to disciplinary sanctions. View "Franchini v. Bd. of Registration in Podiatry" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Board of Pharmacy (“Board”) filed an administrative complaint against pharmacist Cindy Chambers, alleging that she dispensed a controlled substance without a valid prescription. Chambers prevailed before the Board and it determined that she was entitled to recover her reasonable attorney fees and costs; however, she failed to comply with the 14-day deadline for requesting her award. When she filed a request almost seven months after the deadline had passed, the Board denied her request upon finding that she failed to show good cause for the late filing. Chambers then sought judicial review from the district court, which dismissed her petition. Chambers then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, maintaining that both the Board and the district court erred by applying the wrong legal standard. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Chambers v. Idaho Board of Pharmacy" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Yesenia Pacheco sought contraception from Neighborcare Health, a federally funded community health center, “to prevent the birth of an unwanted child.” The method Pacheco and her care providers selected was Depo-Provera, “a highly effective” injectable contraceptive medication that “must be administered on a timely basis every eleven to thirteen weeks.” Pacheco received regular Depo-Provera injections from December 2009 until July 2011. On September 30, 2011 for her next scheduled appointment, a medical assistant “mistakenly injected [Pacheco] with a flu vaccine instead.” The medical assistant “failed to confirm why Ms. Pacheco was there, to document consent to the flu vaccine or a change in the orders, or to advise Ms. Pacheco of the side effects of a flu shot and/or the consequences of skipping a Depo-Provera injection.” Neighborcare did not inform Pacheco of its mistake until December 2011, when she sought an appointment for her next Depo-Provera injection. At that time, Neighborcare asked Pacheco to come to the clinic for a pregnancy test, which was positive. Plaintiff S.L.P. was born to Pacheco and plaintiff Luis Lemus, diagnosed with perisylvian polymicrogyria (PMG), a congenital defect resulting in permanent disabilities. In March 2017, Pacheco, Lemus, and S.L.P. filed an amended complaint against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) at the federal district court for the Western District of Washington, seeking damages relating to Pacheco’s pregnancy and S.L.P.’s PMG. The federal district court certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court, asking whether a patient who received negligent reproductive health care could recover all damages proximately caused by the provider’s negligence, regardless of the patient’s reason for seeking care. To this, the Supreme Court answered yes: if any Washington health care provider breaches their duty “to follow the accepted standard of care,” then damages proximately caused by the provider’s negligence may be recovered upon the necessary factual findings. Where negligent contraceptive care results in the birth of a child, and that child has a congenital defect, the provider may be liable for damages relating to the child’s condition. Such liability does not require proof that the child was at a known, heightened risk for developing congenital defects or that the patient sought contraception for the specific purpose of preventing the birth of a child with congenital defects. View "Pacheco v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Texas Medical Board is not required by federal law or permitted by Texas law to merely revise an initial report of a temporary sanction, rather than void it, when the Board later finds that the allegations have not been proved.Federal and State law require the Board to report a disciplinary action against a physician to the National Practitioner Data Bank to restrict the ability of incompetent physicians to move from state to state. The Board issued a temporary sanction against Dr. Robert Wayne Van Boven while it investigated misconduct allegations. The Board then issued a final order concluding that Van Boven was not subject to sanctions. Van Bovcen brought this ultra vires action against Board officials directing them to file a Void Report with the Data Bank, which would remove the initial report against him and a subsequent revision-to-action report from disclosure. The trial court denied Defendants' plea to the jurisdiction asserting sovereign immunity. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board officials' actions in this case were ultra vires and that the officials were not immune from Van Boven's claims. View "Van Boven v. Freshour" on Justia Law

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Dr. Jacob Schmitz appealed a district court judgment affirming the final order of the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners (“Board”) imposing discipline against him. He also appealed an order entered after a limited remand denying his motion for post-judgment relief under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Dr. Schmitz was a chiropractor licensed to practice in North Dakota. He owned and practiced at Freedom Chiropractic Health Center in Fargo, North Dakota. In March 2019 the Board issued an administrative complaint against Dr. Schmitz, alleging he failed to maintain the chiropractic standard of care for patient and clinical billing records in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 17-03-01-01(3), that Dr. Schmitz’s membership plans were in violation of N.D. Admin Code 17-03-01-05, and that Dr. Schmitz used Noridian Medicare Private Contract and Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN) forms to have patients opt out of Medicare in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 17-03-01-01(4). The Board requested the Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”) to appoint an ALJ to conduct an evidentiary hearing and issue recommended findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order. Both Dr. Schmitz and the Board moved for summary judgment. The ALJ held a telephonic hearing on the competing motions, issued a recommended order granting the Board’s summary judgment motion on each of the claims, and cancelled the previously scheduled evidentiary hearing. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Board’s final order, adopting an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) recommended order for summary judgment, erred in granting summary judgment on the Board’s claims against Dr. Schmitz. The judgment and the Board’s final order were reversed, and the matter remanded to the Board to conduct an evidentiary hearing and to supplement the administrative record. View "Schmitz v. State Board of Chiropractic Examiners" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy and substantive health care fraud for fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars for visits to nursing home patients that he never made. He challenged the convictions, sentence, restitution amount, and forfeiture amount on appeal.The co-conspirator pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with the government. Part of his plea agreement addressed his compensation during the conspiracy. Defendant contends that the district court erred in quashing his subpoena of the co-conspirator’s attorney. The court ruled that any erroneous exclusion of the attorney’s testimony was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because his testimony would not have impeached the co-conspirator. He further argues that the district court erred in limiting how many character witnesses he could present. The court found that the district court did not err because defendant overstates the importance of character witness testimony in this case. He was not on trial for being uncaring or uncompassionate but for lying and billing Medicare for services he did not provide.Additionally, defendant contends that the district court improperly limited part of his counsel’s closing argument when he was discussing whether defendant had made a profit. The court found that the government does not have to prove a defendant profited to establish the elements of fraud. The court also found that the district court did not err in calculating the loss amount used to determine defendant's sentence or the amount of restitution ordered. View "USA v. Douglas Moss" on Justia Law