Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Health Law
Baker-Heser v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' claims against the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) alleging violations of the Health Care Facility Licensure Act (HCFLA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-401 to -476, and granting summary judgment to DHHS on the claims alleging violations of the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to -1125, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs were two former employees of a state hospital who highlighted inadequate record keeping for hospital psychiatrists. Plaintiffs were subsequently fired. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging violations of the NFEPA and the HCFLA. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims based on the HCFLA on sovereign immunity grounds and then granted summary judgment in favor of DHHS on the NFEPA claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiffs did not establish that they engaged in protected activity, the district court properly entered summary judgment against them on the NFEPA claims; and (2) because the State did not waive its sovereign immunity to suit under the HCFLA, the court properly dismissed those claims. View "Baker-Heser v. State" on Justia Law
In re Guardianship of Nicholas H.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the county court purporting to discharge the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) and appoint the ward's parents as successor coguardians over their objection, holding that the parents had standing to appeal and that the Public Guardianship Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-4101 to 30-4118, did not permit the discharge of the OPG.Nicholas was an adult with severe mental illness who was in need of a guardian. His parents served as his court-appointed coguardians until they petitioned to have the OPG appointed as Nicholas's guardian pursuant to the Act. The county court appointed the OPG as Nicholas's guardian, but OPG later filed a motion for discharge, asserting that Nicholas's parents should be named successor guardians. After a hearing, the court granted the OPG's motion for discharge and directed that Nicholas's parents be appointed his successor coguardians. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the OPG failed to prove that its services were no longer necessary, and therefore, the county court erred in discharging the OPG under section 30-4117. View "In re Guardianship of Nicholas H." on Justia 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