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State Wins Lawsuit In Placement Of Kids In Nursing Homes

Evan Granowitz
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice that alleged Florida had improperly placed children with disabilities in nursing homes.

U.S. District Judge William Zloch  issued a 28-page ruling that said the Justice Department did not have legal standing to file the lawsuit under part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under that part of the law, Zloch wrote, such cases can only be filed by a “person alleging discrimination,” which doesn't apply to the Justice Department.

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in 2013 amid a controversy about whether the state Medicaid program had improperly placed medically fragile children in nursing homes instead of providing community-based services. Individual plaintiffs also had earlier filed a lawsuit, and the cases were consolidated.

Zloch's ruling this week did not address the individual plaintiffs. But a separate document filed Aug. 30 by the state said the lawsuit began with 10 individual plaintiffs and that five remain. The state Agency for Health Care Administration, which operates the Medicaid program, has disputed any wrongdoing in the services provided to the children.