Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting a motion for temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of Appellees, who sought a declaratory judgment challenging the validity of the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ (DHS) new Resource Utilization Groups system rule. Appellees, low-income individuals with profound physical disabilities who received services through a program called Attendant Care, alleged that the switch from nurses’ assessments to to a computer algorithm reduced their attendant care hours by an average of forty-three percent and that such a reduction would be insufficient to meet their care needs. The circuit court concluded that Appellees demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits and temporarily enjoined DHS from reducing their attendant-care hours. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly found irreparable harm in this case; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Appellees demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits; and (3) Appellees were not required to exhaust their administrative remedies before seeking a declaratory order from the court. View "Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Ledgerwood" on Justia Law

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In this complaint filed against Robinson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC and related entities (collectively, Robinson), the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order granting class certification in part and reversed it in part. Andrew Phillips filed a first amended class-action complaint challenging Robinson’s business practice of chronic understaffing. Robinson appealed the order granting class certification, arguing that Phillips did not meet his burden of proving commonality, predominance, typicality, and superiority, and that the class definition was overbroad. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) properly granted class certification as to Phillips’s claims of breach of contract, Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), and unjust enrichment; and (2) abused its discretion in certifying the class action as to Phillips’s negligence claim. View "Robinson Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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On July 7, 2016, the Secretary of State certified that The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act had met the constitutional signature requirements in order to place the proposed initiated act on the Arkansas general election ballot of November 8, 2016. Dr. Melanie Conway, both individually and on behalf of Arkansas Against Legalized Marijuana, brought this original action challenging the legal sufficiency of the Act’s ballot title. Arkansas for Compassionate Care 2016 successfully moved to intervene in the action in support of the Act’s ballot title. The Supreme Court denied Conway’s petition, holding that Conway did not meet her burden of proving that the ballot title was legally insufficient. View "Conway v. Martin" on Justia Law

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The circuit court granted Janet Autry’s petition to be appointed temporary guardian of Louise Sheperd. Pam and Don Beckham were allowed to intervene. The circuit court appointed the Beckhams guardians of Sheperd and First Community Bank of Searcy as the guardian of Sheperd’s estate. The court of appeals reversed. Before the mandate issued, Timothy Whaley filed an ex parte petition to be appointed temporary guardian and permanent guardian of Sheperd. Before the circuit court took action, the Beckhams filed another petition to intervene and for appointment as guardians. The circuit court denied Whaley’s motion to dismiss the Beckhams’ motion to intervene, granted the Beckhams’ intervention, and reappointed the Beckhams as temporary guardians of the person of Sheperd and First Community Bank as guardian of the estate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Whaley’s motion to dismiss the Beckhams’ motion for leave to intervene in the probate proceedings. View "Whaley v. Beckham" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three Arkansas corporations that operate private hospitals in the state, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking a judgment declaring the Arkansas Peer Review Fairness Act unconstitutional. The circuit court ruled that the Act is not unconstitutional. Defendants - the Attorney General, the Arkansas Department of Health, and Nathaniel Smith - appealed, arguing that there was no actual, present controversy in this case because there was no present danger or dilemma. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that this was not a proper declaratory judgment action because the necessary element of a justiciable controversy was lacking in this case. View "Baptist Health Sys. v. Rutledge" on Justia Law

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Appellant petitioned the circuit court to obtain permanent guardianship over her father, Appellee, alleging that Appellee suffered from mental incapacity and was unable to provide for his health, maintenance, and safety. The circuit court dismissed the petition, concluding that Appellant failed to comply with Ark. Code Ann. 28-65-211(b)(2) because she failed to put forth a professional evaluation from a member of the medical staff of Conway Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center (CHRC), where Appellee was located at the time of trial. Appellant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in finding that CHRC is an institution for treatment of mental or nervous diseases, and consequently, Appellant was not required to present testimony or a sworn written statement regarding Appellee’s incapacity by a professional on the medical staff of CHRC. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, for the purposes of section 28-65-211(b)(2), CHRC is not an institution for the treatment of mental or nervous diseases, and therefore, the circuit court erred in concluding that Appellant was required to present testimony or a sworn written statement by a qualified professional on the medical staff of CHRC. View "Hale v. Coffman" on Justia Law

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Decedent became a resident of Golden Living Center, a nursing home, in 2009. Later that year, Courtyard Gardens took over ownership and operation of the facility. Thereafter, Decedent's son, Ronald Quarles signed a new admission agreement and optional arbitration agreement. In 2011, Kenny Quarles, another of Decedent's sons acting as power of attorney, filed an amended complaint against Courtyard Gardens and other entities associated with it and the Center, seeking damages for negligence, medical malpractice, and violations of the Arkansas Long-Term Care Residents' Act. Courtyard Gardens filed a motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. The circuit court denied Courtyard Garden's motion to compel arbitration, concluding that questions of fact remained regarding Ronald's authority to bind Decedent to the arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the motion to compel arbitration, holding that there was no valid arbitration agreement as a matter of law because Ronald had neither actual authority nor statutory authority to enter into the arbitration agreement on Decedent's behalf. View "Courtyard Gardens Health & Rehab., LLC v. Quarles" on Justia Law

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While Defendant was performing laparoscopic surgery to remove Plaintiff's left ovary, Plaintiff's bowel was perforated. Plaintiff required a colostomy to repair the perforation. Plaintiff filed a claim alleging medical malpractice against Defendant and others. At trial, Plaintiff presented the expert testimony of a medical doctor who testified that the actions of Defendant were negligent. After Plaintiff rested, the circuit court granted Defendant's motion for a directed verdict on the issue of negligence and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. Plaintiff appealed, asserting that her expert's testimony was sufficient to satisfy the locality rule. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's expert's testimony regarding the standard of care in the same or similar locality was insufficient to create a question of fact on this issue; and (2) accordingly, the circuit court did not err in granting Defendant's motion for directed verdict. View "Plymate v. Martinelli" on Justia Law

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Appellant was employed by Employer when he suffered a compensable work-related brain injury. Appellant, who was permanently and totally disabled, filed a workers' compensation claim seeking benefits and also requested benefits for the nursing care services his mother was providing. The workers' compensation commission (Commission) found Appellant's injury was compensable but denied the requested nursing service benefits. Appellant subsequently made a second request for additional benefits in the form of nursing services at Timber Ridge Ranch, an assisted living facility. The Commission denied Appellant benefits, finding that the services at Timber Ridge were not nursing services as defined by the law. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission's findings and conclusions were not supported by substantial evidence and that the services provided at Timber Ridge qualified as nursing services under the applicable statutes. Remanded. View "Pack v. Little Rock Convention Ctr. & Visitors Bureau" on Justia Law

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Appellant requested her medical records from a medical clinic. Pursuant to its contract with Appellant's medical care provider, Healthport, Inc., a private company that fulfills such requests for medical records, obtained and sold Appellant the copies of her requested medical records. Healthport collected sales tax on charges for services rendered in retrieving and copying the medical records. Appellant subsequently filed a class-action complaint against Healthport for violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), unjust enrichment, and a declaratory judgment that Healthport illegally collected the sales tax. Healthport impleaded the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DF&A) by filing a counterclaim and a third-party complaint seeking declaratory judgment on whether the State's tax statutes require the collection of sales tax on labor and copy charges associated with the production of medical records. The circuit court granted Healthport's and DF&A's motions for summary judgment, finding that sales tax applied to the sale of copies of medical records and that this conclusion rendered Appellant's additional claims moot. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal without prejudice for lack of a proper Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certificate, as the circuit court's Rule 54(b) certificate failed to comply with Rule 54(b). View "Holbrook v. Healthport, Inc." on Justia Law