Decision: Friedman v. State Board of Healing Arts

January 16th. The Kansas Supreme Court has issued its opinion in Friedman v. State Board of Healing Arts (No. 100564). In a unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Johnson, the Court dismissed the appeal of a Dr Amir Friedman against the Shawnee District Court’s decision not to issue an injunction against the State Board of Healing Arts in its attempt to revoke his medical license. Friedman had argued that since he no longer lived in Kansas and no longer held a Kansas medical license that the Board lacked jurisdiction to hear his case. Chief Justice McFarland and Justice Davis did not take part in the case, their places being filled by Court of Appeals judges Hill and Larson.

Friedman, who now lives in New Jersey, where he continues to practice medicine faces a petition from the Board to have his license revoked for three counts of unprofessional conduct, one count of falsifying a medical record, and one count of surrendering hospital medical privileges while under hospital investigation. Friedman allowed his license to elapse on June 30th 2006, and the charges were brought on July 31st of that year. Friedman filed a motion to dismiss the case against him, citing his move to New Jersey. This motion was denied by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in January of 2008, and the ALJ further ordered that Friedman make preparations for the hearing of the case proper. Friedman next sought an injunction in District Court to block the ALJ’s motion and the Board’s proceedings. The District Court dismissed his motion on the grounds that it was not an appeal of a finalized administrative action. It further found that the Board of Healing Arts did have jurisdiction since it filed the case on the final day of a 30 day window that Friedman had to renew his lapsed license. The District Court held that it was able to make this decision to the extent that the injunction was considered an independent action to the underlying case.

In dismissing Friedman’s appeal the Kansas Supreme Court makes two decisions. First, it holds that the District Court was correct in refusing the injunction. The statute governing the Board of Healing Arts explicitly states that Judicial Review is unavailable until after the completion of any proceedings, except where its postponement would result in harm disproportionate to the public benefit of waiting. Since the proceedings were incomplete, and since Friedman was still practicing medicine and made no attempt to show any disproportionate harm he had suffered his injunction attempt and appeal are barred on jurisdictional grounds. The second holding was that the District Court should not have ruled on the merits of the Board of Healing Arts jurisdiction. The Supreme Court rules that the injunction Friedman sought was not an independent action since he sought to achieve the same end as the barred judicial review: reversal of the ALJ’s decision. Calling the attempt to seek judicial review something else was not enough.

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