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Mental Health Matters
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Mental Health Law Section

October 2018, vol. 5, no. 1

Appellate update

Lakewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v. Department of Public Health, 2018 IL App (3d) 170177 (Opinion filed August 16, 2018).

On October 28, 2013, Lakewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (Lakewood) sent a resident of its facility, Helen Sauvageau, a notice of involuntary transfer or discharge and opportunity for hearing, for failing to pay for her stay there.1 On November 1, 2013, Sauvageau filed a request for hearing which the parties agreed to stay, when Sauvageau applied for Medicaid.2 On January 13, 2014, her Medicaid application was denied.3 On January 15, 2014, Lakewood’s attorney informed Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) of the denial and requested IDPH to set an intent to discharge hearing date.4

On February 10, 2014, a pre-hearing was held.5 Lakewood filed a motion to dismiss its hearing request, arguing that the IDPH no longer had jurisdiction to hold a hearing because it would be doing so after the 10-day limitations period in section 3-411 of the Nursing Home Care Act (Act) (210 ILCS 45/3-411 (West 2014)).6 IDPH denied the motion to dismiss, determining that the language within the section was directory rather than mandatory.7 

On March 24, 2014, an evidentiary hearing was held.8 The administrative law judge (ALJ) recommended, based on Sauvageau’s stipulation that she owed money to Lakewood, that the notice of involuntary transfer or discharge should be approved 30 days subsequent to the receipt of the final ruling in the matter.9  The chief ALJ adopted the recommendation in its final administrative order.10

Lakewood filed a complaint in the circuit court, alleging that the hearing and final order were void because they violate the statutory time requirements.11 IDPH filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Lakewood’s claims were moot because Sauvageau no longer lived in the facility.12 It also argued that the trial court only has jurisdiction to review final administrative decisions and that Sauvageau did not challenge the decision but rather sought “declaratory relief regarding the timing of the Department’s actions.”13 The trial court granted the motion to dismiss.14

Lakewood appealed, and the appellate court reversed and remanded the trial court’s decision in Lakewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v Department of Public Health, 2015 IL App (3d) 140899.  The court stated that the time requirement issues that Lakewood presented were too premature for its review and would be better addressed on remand.15

On remand, the circuit court held that the time requirements of section 3-411 of the Act are directory.16 It determined that section 3-814 of the Act, which gave IDPH authority to prepare transfer or discharge plans to ensure the protections of residents, allowed IDPH the discretion to approve the notice 30 days after the final ruling.17 Lakewood appealed.18   

The appellate court reversed the circuit court’s judgment.

Analysis

  1. IDPH’s ruling was void because it violated statutory time requirements under Sections 3-411 of the Act (210 ILCS 45/3-411 (West 2014)), which provides that IDPH hold a hearing at the resident’s facility not later than 10 days after a request for hearing is filed, and render a decision within 14 days after the filing of the hearing request.

The appellate court found that the term “not later than 10 days” in section 3-411 constitutes negative language.19 “Illinois courts, including the court, have determined that language prohibiting a further action constitutes negative language and, therefore, a mandatory construction.”20 The appellate court determined that Section 3-411 is mandatory.21  Because the appellate court found that IDPH lacked jurisdiction, it did not determine whether IDPH erred when it did not render its decision within 14 days.22 

  1. IDPH erred under section 3-413 of the Act (210 ILCS 45/3-411 (West 2014)) when it required Lakewood to keep Sauvageau as a resident for an additional 30 days after its decision.

“Looking at the plain language of section 3-413, it does not give IDPH authority to approve the notice of transfer and discharge 30 days after the receipt of the final ruling.”23 The section only required Lakewood to maintain Sauvageau as a resident for 34 days following the receipt of the notice or 10 days following the receipt of the final ruling.24 Therefore, the appellate court found that IDPH’s ruling regarding the 30-day extension was void.25


Andreas Liewald is a staff attorney with the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, West Suburban (Hines) Office.

1. Lakewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v Department of Public Health,2018 IL App (3d) 170177, ¶ 1, 3-4.
 
2. Id. ¶¶1, 4. 
 

3. Id.

4. Id. ¶ 4.

5. Id. ¶ 5.

6. Id.

7. Id.

8. Id. ¶ 6.

9. Id.

10. Id.

11. Id. ¶ 7.

12. Id.

13. Id.

14. Id.

15. Lakewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC v Department of Public Health, 2015 IL App (3d) 140899.

16. Id. ¶ 11.

17. Id.

18. Id.

19. Id. ¶ 23.

20. Id. (citations omitted). 

21. Id.

22. Id. ¶ 24.

23. Id. ¶ 26 (citations omitted). 

24. Id. ¶ 27.

25. Id., citing Walsh v. Champaign County Sheriff’s Merit Comm’n, 404 Ill. App. 3d 933, 938 (4th Dist. 2010).  (“any action beyond the administrative agency’s statutory authority is void”).