Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying mother's motion to prohibit the Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) from immunizing her one-year-old daughter, M.S., over her objection after the circuit court adjudicated M.S. dependent-neglected, holding that Mother properly availed herself of the vaccination exemption provided for by Ark. Code. Ann. 6-18-702.On appeal, Mother argued that ADHS, as the temporary custodian of M.S., did not have the authority to immunize the child over her philosophical and religious objections. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the circumstances, the legal issues were sufficiently developed to allow an intelligent and useful decision, and therefore, the case was ripe for appellate review; and (2) Mother exercised her right to exempt M.S. from immunization, as was her right as a parent. View "Macklin v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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Here, the Supreme Court announced new protocols to maintain the safety of jurors, litigants, attorneys, court personnel and the public in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Court suspended until January 15, 2021 jury trials that have not begun. The Court, however, urged that judges continue to move cases forward, either through the use of technology by virtual or telephonic hearings or through in-person hearings that meet the Arkansas Department of Health's criteria for safe gatherings. The Court held that any delay for speedy-trial purposes due to precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic shall presumptively constitute good cause under Ark. R. Crim. P. 28.3(h) and shall constitute an excluded period for speedy-trial purposes. View "In Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court finding attorney Jonathan Streit in contempt of court and assessing a $100 fine, holding that substantial evidence supported the court's decision that Streit's actions displayed a lack of regard for the court's integrity and demonstrated disrespect.Streit appeared before the circuit court on a petition for permanent guardianship. At the hearing, the circuit court noted several deficiencies in the case file. The circuit court was unwilling to let the matter to proceed without compliance with the statutory requirements, and Streit argued that the circuit court took issue with him because he successfully reversed the circuit court in a separate case. The circuit court then found Streit in contempt of court and assessed a fine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the court's decision to hold Streit in contempt. View "Streit v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court entered on the jury's verdict finding that Davis Life Care Center (DLCC), a long-term care facility, was not entitled to charitable immunity and denying DLCC's motion for new trial, holding that the circuit court erred in submitting the charitable-immunity question to the jury.Plaintiff sued DLCC alleging negligence, medical malpractice, breach of an admission agreement, and other causes of action. DLCC filed a motion for summary judgment claiming entitlement to charitable immunity. The circuit court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that reasonable persons could reach different conclusions based on the undisputed facts presented. The circuit court submitted the question of charitable immunity to the jury, which returned a verdict against DLCC. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the issue of charitable immunity is a question of law for the court, rather than the jury, to decide. View "Davis Nursing Ass'n v. Neal" on Justia Law

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At issue was the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s (MMC) process that resulted in a decision awarding five top scoring applicants medical-marijuana-cultivation-facility licenses.Naturalis Health, LLC, one of the applicants that did not obtain a license, brought this complaint asserting that the MMC carried out the application process in a flawed, biased, and arbitrary and capricious manner. The circuit court agreed and went further to conclude that the MMC’s licensing process and decisions violated Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution, were ultra vires, and violated due process. The court declared the MMC’s licensing decisions null and void and enjoined the MMC from issuing the cultivation-facility licenses. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the appeal brought by Appellants - MMC and others - holding that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. Naturalis Health, LLC" on Justia Law

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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