Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Health Law
In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Alice H.
The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the county court's decision ordering Douglas County to pay the balance of the attorney fees owed by a former guardian-conservator to the successor guardian-conservator, holding that the county court's order did not conform to the law and was not supported by competent evidence. In 2007, a guardian-conservatorship was established for Alice H. In Douglas County. Pamela Grimes was appointed her guardian-conservator. In 2012, the court appointed Jodie McGill to serve as Alice's guardian-conservator. In 2016, the county court surcharged Grimes $37,505.70 in attorney fees to McGill. Grimes paid only a portion of the fees. In 2018, McGill asked the county court to order Douglas County to pay the balance. The court granted that request. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the order neither conformed to the law nor was supported by competent evidence. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Alice H." on Justia Law
Posted in: Health Law
Tran v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the decision of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) terminating Appellant's status as a Medicaid service provider, holding that the district court's affirmance of the sanction imposed by DHHS was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. Based on Appellant's failures to adhere to the standards for participation in Medicaid, DHHS terminated Appellant's provider agreements for good cause and then informed Appellant of her permanent exclusion from the Medicaid program. The DHHS director of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care ruled that DHHS' decision to terminate Appellant as a Medicaid service provider was proper. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court's finding that Appellant billed for overlapping services was based on competent evidence; and (2) DHHS' sanction to permanently exclude Appellant from the Medicaid program was not arbitrary or capricious. View "Tran v. State" on Justia Law
Fidler v. Life Care Centers of America
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal after the district court administratively dismissed a negligence action for failure to timely submit a proposed scheduling order and then granted a motion to reinstate the case, holding that the district court’s reinstatement order was not a final, appealable order. On appeal, Appellants argued that the district erred when it applied the local rules regarding reinstatement of cases instead of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-201.01 to decide whether to reinstate the case. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order vacating dismissal and reinstating the case put the parties back in approximately the same litigation posture as before the action was dismissed, and there was no reason to disrupt the progression of the case by entertaining an interlocutory appeal. View "Fidler v. Life Care Centers of America" on Justia Law
Cullinane v. Beverly Enterprises – Nebraska, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Appellant’s motion to dismiss or stay proceedings and compel arbitration, holding that the issue of whether the arbitration agreement in this case was enforceable was properly decided by the district court and not an arbitrator. Thomas Cullinane, as special administrator for the estate of his mother, Helen Cullinane, filed a wrongful death action against Appellant, Beverly Enterprises - Nebraska, Inc., doing business as Golden LivingCenter - Valhaven (GLCV). GLCV filed a motion to dismiss or stay proceedings and compel arbitration in accordance with the terms of a written arbitration agreement between GLCV and Helen. GLCV asserted that Eugene Cullinane, Helen’s husband, while acting as Helen’s attorney in fact, signed the agreement when he and Helen were admitted to the facility. The district court found that Eugene’s execution of the arbitration agreement could not be binding upon Helen, nor her estate, and thus dismissed GLCV’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the arbitration agreement was not binding upon Helen or her estate. View "Cullinane v. Beverly Enterprises - Nebraska, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Estate of Vollmann
The Supreme Court held that “medical assistance” provided to Medicaid recipients includes costs for room and board and other “nonmedical” expenses at nursing facilities, and therefore, those costs can be recovered from the recipient’s estate. In this case, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a petition for allowance of a claim for services provided to the decedent while he resided at two different nursing homes. The county court sustained DHHS’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the services defined as room and board fell within the parameters of services provided under the Medical Assistance Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that DHHS was statutorily authorized to recover the sums it paid for room and board costs and other expenses from the decedent’s estate. View "In re Estate of Vollmann" on Justia Law
Merie B. on behalf of Brayden O. v. State
Brayden O. was a seventeen-year-old girl who suffered from Coffin-Lowry Syndrome and other disabilities. Brayden had been receiving home and community-based waiver services through the Medicaid division of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for almost a dozen years before the DHHS determined that Brayden no longer met the necessary qualifications for such services. Merie B., Brayden’s mother, appealed DHHS’ determination, which was affirmed after an administrative appeal hearing. The district court affirmed. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions that the district court order DHHS to reinstate waiver services to Brayden, effective as of the date services were originally terminated. On remand, Merie requested reimbursement for expenses she incurred due to the wrongful termination of Brayden’s services, along with attorney fees. The district court granted the request and entered judgment against DHHS in the amount of $76,260.48. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court was without authority to expand the mandate in Merie B. I and hold an evidentiary hearing on Merie’s “Motion to Determine Expenses.” View "Merie B. on behalf of Brayden O. v. State" on Justia Law
D.I. v. Gibson
D.I. was committed for treatment as a dangerous sex offender under the Sex Offender Commitment Act (SOCA). The Supreme Court upheld the commitment. The Douglas County public defender’s office represented D.I. during the SOCA proceedings. Thereafter, D.I. filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking immediate release from his commitment. At some point, attorney Ryan Stover began to represent D.I. and represented him for the remainder of the proceedings before the district court and the Supreme Court. The district court dismissed D.I.’s petition, and the Supreme Court affirmed. Stover subsequently filed an application for an order fixing attorney fees and expenses. The district court ordered Madison County to pay Stover’s fees and expenses in the amount of $6,259. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) statutes authorize the payment of attorney fees incurred by court-appointed counsel representing an indigent subject challenging his custody or treatment under the SOCA via a habeas petition; and (2) Stover’s fees were for services apparently performed in that capacity, and therefore, the district court properly ordered payment of attorney fees in this case. View "D.I. v. Gibson" on Justia Law
Posted in: Health Law
In re Interest of L.T.
After a hearing, the Mental Health Board of the Fourth Judicial District found that L.T. was a dangerous sex offender under Sex Offender Commitment Act and that inpatient treatment was the least restrictive alternative for him. On appeal, the district court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the Board’s determination and that there was clear and convincing evidence that L.T. could be treated on an outpatient basis. The district court then ordered L.T. unconditionally discharged from commitment as a dangerous sex offender. The State sought to appeal the district court’s order pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-1214. L.T. filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, asserting that the State did not follow the proper appeal procedure and, therefore, failed to perfect its appeal. The Supreme Court agreed and dismissed the appeal, holding that the State failed to perfect an appeal under section 71-1214 and Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1912. View "In re Interest of L.T." on Justia Law
In re Conservatorship of Franke
Before Genevieve Franke’s death in 2014, she had been a resident of a nursing home. In 2013, Genevieve agreed to sell her farmland to her son John Franke at a price below its fair market value. Laurie Berggren, Genevieve's daughter, subsequently petitioned for the appointment of a conservator. The court appointed Laurie as Genevieve’s temporary conservator and Cornerstone Bank as Genevieve’s permanent conservator. Both Genevieve and John appealed. Before the parties filed briefs, Genevieve’s attorney filed a suggestion of death stating that Genevieve had died. Genevieve, through her attorney of record, sought an order to dismiss the appeal as moot and to vacate the county court’s order appointing a permanent conservator. John, in turn, moved for an order reviving the appeal. The Supreme Court overruled both of these motions, holding (1) Genevieve’s attorney has no standing to represent her in the Court after her death; (2) Genevieve’s death has abated John’s appeal, for which he has standing, because her competency and need for a conservator are moot issues; and (3) the abatement of John’s appeal does not require the Court to vacate the county court’s orders appointing a conservator. View "In re Conservatorship of Franke" on Justia Law
D.I. v. Gibson
Under Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-1207, a mental health board “shall” hold a hearing within seven days after the subject is taken into emergency protective custody. Appellant was convicted of sexual assault on a child. Before Appellant finished his sentence, the Mental Health Board of the Fourth Judicial District (Board) issued a warrant directing that Appellant remain in custody under the Sex Offender Commitment Act (SOCA) until a commitment hearing. The hearing was held approximately five weeks later. The Board determined that Appellant was a dangerous sex offender and placed him in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services for inpatient treatment. Appellant petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that the Board’s failure to hold a hearing within seven days violated the SOCA and his right to due process. The district court dismissed Appellant’s habeas petition, concluding that the seven-day time limit in section 71-1207 is directory, not mandatory. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the seven-day time limit for holding a hearing under the statute is directory, and therefore, the untimeliness of the commitment hearing in this case did not deprive the Board of jurisdiction. View "D.I. v. Gibson" on Justia Law