Monday, January 09, 2006

Sometimes It Comes Out Right and Justice is Done - In this One, DCF Gets What's Coming to It

I'm generally pretty depressed about the state of justice in the courts, but this opinion from the 5th DCA lifted my spirits a bit - though it's not a land use case.

Essentially, DCF unilaterally and contrary to the available evidence decided that a disabled woman's mom couldn't care for her, changed the disabled woman's care plan (unlaterilly), mailed the notice late, used their inability to react to the late notice to change her status, and then refused for something like a year to give her a hearing, then convinced the (non DOAH, captive DCF) hearing officer that "back payments" for the improperly discontinued care weren't available (though the clear statutory and caselaw provided it).

The hearing officer reinstated the mother's care but didn't provide the back benefits. Also held that attorneys' fees were unavailable.

The 5th enforced the statute's back benefits AND found that the woman was entitled to a seperate hearing before a DOAH administrative law judge for trial level attorney's fees AND found that she was entitled to appellate attorney's fees because of the agency's absolutely clear and indefensible bad behavior.

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