Press Release
August 26, 2009

Holland & Knight Attorneys from Tallahassee and Jacksonville Win Pro Bono Appeal for The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities

TALLAHASSEE, FL – August 26, 2009 – Holland & Knight is pleased to announce that attorneys Gigi Rollini and Christine Gay recently succeeded in an appeal on behalf of their client, The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. (the Advocacy Center). The Advocacy Center had filed action against the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ADP) for not complying with a statute regarding Medicaid Waiver for clients with developmental disabilities.

The First District Court of Appeal (DCA) in Tallahassee, Fla., ruled ADP was not appropriately adhering to a 2007 law that mandated the ADP create a valid and reliable assessment instrument to properly place Waiver clients into four different tiers. A consistent placement test was ordered because three of the four tiers have limits on how much the government will pay for services.

Holland & Knight took over as counsel for The Advocacy Center, pro bono, after original administrative proceedings yielded an unfavorable decision. Rollini and Gay argued that under Florida law, state agencies, including ADP, cannot adopt rules that contradict the legislature’s laws. ADP had implemented an “agency approved assessment process” to determine tier assignments, without publicly naming the required objective assessment instrument or explaining what the process entailed. The DCA ultimately ruled the ADP assessment was unlawful.

The decision does not affect the four tier system itself, but orders the ADP to propose a new set of rules when implementing the classifications. It also ensures the ADP will have to create a system that is a clearly identified process and bases tier assignment on a valid and reliable assessment instrument.

Rollini is an associate in Holland & Knight’s Tallahassee office in the firm's Litigation group. Her practice encompasses all aspects of Florida administrative law, as well as utility regulation and appellate law.

Gay is an associate in the firm's Jacksonville office and practices in the Real Estate Section of the firm representing developers, builders and lenders in the areas of condominium and homeowner association developments, land use, and complex sales and acquisitions of real property.

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