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Government Lawyer Drops Ball, Court Grants Short Stay Anyway

By George Khoury, Esq. on June 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Rhode Island's superior court is giving the state a tiny little reprieve before potentially letting it get some really bad news.

You see, the state's senior legal counsel for the Health and Human Services department missed the deadline for appealing, as well as requesting a stay pending appeal, in a case it just lost. However, after he recently resigned, the department still appealed and asked for the stay anyway (after all, there's over $20 million on the line here). And while the appeal is still pending before the state's supreme court, the stay was granted by the lower court in order to maintain the status quo until the appeal is resolved.

Cut-Rate Rate Cut

The litigation against the Rhode Island HHS was brought by 59 nursing homes that challenged a state Medicaid rate cut that would cost the group nearly $25 million through June 2019 in lost revenue. The nursing homes have victory within their grasp at the moment, and seem to just be waiting out the court's eventual rejection of the late appeal.

Curiously, the stay granted by the lower court is not much of a stay at all. In fact, it expires in a week (on June 13), which by the time you read this, probably already passed.

Cut-rate Government Lawyering

While an attorney for the nursing homes publicly commented that this case should be over as the appeal was not timely filed, courts are not unknown for granting government lawyers wide latitude.

This will be an interesting appeal with plenty of potential to make legal history as the senior legal counsel that is being fingered for dropping the ball, Gregory Hazian, was recently discovered to be unlicensed for a ridiculously embarrassing reason -- he failed to comply with CLE requirements.

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