Small Business vs. Big Agency: A Group Home Owner’s Battle With The APD
When it comes to legal battles, the little guy can have his day. Take, for instance, a small private group home owner I represented in their fight against the state’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD)- the agency that licenses group homes and acts as the issuer/payer for Medicaid vouchers for qualifying residents.
This client is licensed to run two group homes in Palm Beach County. In October 2014, one of their residents, who was profoundly disabled and suffering from cerebral palsy, aspirated on the pureed food he was required to be fed due to the choking hazard of solid food. (His mother had declined his doctor’s recommendation for a feeding tube, and the death was ruled to be natural causes secondary to his disabilities.)
In March 2015, APD used this incident as a pretext for denying renewal of my client’s license. However, under law, a licensee is entitled to a public hearing before an administrative law judge (with an adverse ruling against the licensee) before the denial of the license can take effect.
Despite this law, APD denied renewal of its license, terminated its participation in the Medicaid voucher program, which effectively shut the home down, and mandated that their clients/residents go elsewhere. My client lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenues as a result.
We demanded a public hearing. My client not only prevailed against every count that had been alleged against it, but the judge entered a detailed, 25-page recommended order describing how APD’s case had no merit.
I then filed a motion for an award of attorney’s fees under the applicable statute. The judge opened up a separate “Fees Case”, which is now pending, and has required APD to respond. Interestingly, after the judge opened the fees case, APD entered its final order adopting the judge’s recommended order (which means they admitted to his factual and legal findings).
We are now planning a lawsuit against APD for violating my client’s due process rights by shutting them down without a court ruling, discriminatory enforcement practices, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, breach of contract and tortious interference with a business agreement.
It is my belief, that this is not the first time the APD has stepped outside of its legal rights to shut a group home down. I hope to help other group home owners battle for their legal right to continue operating their business and helping the people of the community.
AV Rated Attorney John M. Howe understands that your fight is a fight worth fighting. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Howe adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding personal injury, criminal defense, commercial litigation, and immigration law while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your case, please contact The Law Offices of John M. Howe, online or call 561-296-7772.