This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C6-00-136

 

In the Matter of an Assessment Issued to
Apple Valley Health Care Center,
OAH Docket No. 8-0900-11726-2,

In the Matter of an Assessment Issued to
Jones-Harrison Residence,
OAH Docket No. 8-0900-11727-2,

In the Matter of an Assessment Issued to
Pleasant Manor, Inc.,
OAH Docket No. 8-0900-11783-2

Filed June 13, 2000
Appeal dismissed
Shumaker, Judge

Minnesota Department of Health
Office of Health Facility Complaints

Samuel D. Orbovich, Orbovich & Gartner, Chartered, 408 St. Peter Street, Suite 417, St. Paul, MN 55102-1187 (for relators Apple Valley Health Care Center, Jones-Harrison Residence, and Pleasant Manor, Inc.)

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Helen G. Rubenstein, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1200, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Minnesota Commissioner of Health)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N

SHUMAKER, Judge

Respondent Minnesota Department of Health assessed fines against relator nursing homes under Minn. Stat.  144A.103 (1998). The assessments were stayed pending review on certiorari. During the stay, the legislature repealed section 144A.103 in its entirety. There no longer being authority for either assessment or enforcement of the fines, the matter is moot and must be dismissed.

FACTS

The relators are nursing homes. The Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) investigated reports of maltreatment of vulnerable adults at each nursing home. The OHFC reported employee neglect that contributed to the deaths of residents in the nursing homes.

The health department's Medical Review Panel (MRP) reviewed the reports, concluded that employee neglect contributed to the deaths of the residents, and recommended a civil fine of $1,000 against each nursing home under Minn. Stat.  144A.103, subd. 2 (1998).

The nursing homes appealed and an administrative law judge heard the matter on cross-motions for summary disposition. The ALJ recommended that the commissioner of health grant the department's motion for summary disposition and deny the motions of the nursing homes. The commissioner adopted all except one conclusion in the ALJ's recommendation and granted summary disposition to the department.

The nursing homes obtained a writ of certiorari for review of the commissioner's order, arguing that the commissioner misinterpreted and misapplied certain statutes.

D E C I S I O N

During the pendency of the review, the Minnesota Legislature repealed Minn. Stat.  144A.103 (1998) in its entirety, effective April 4, 2000. Minn. Stat.  144 A.103 had provided for the assessment of fines, the stay of assessed fines, and a collection method if nursing homes did not pay fines.

A nursing home that is assessed a fine under this section must pay the fine no later than 15 days after receipt of the notice of assessment. The assessment shall be stayed if the nursing home makes a written request for a hearing on the assessment within 15 days after receipt of the notice of the assessment. * * * If a nursing home does not pay the fine as required by this section, the commissioner of health shall notify the commissioner of human services, who shall deduct the amount of the fine from reimbursement payments due or to be due the nursing home under chapter 256B.

Minn. Stat.  144A.103, subd. 3 (1998).

The repeal was not made retroactive so as to reach the incidents here. But, because of the stay, the fines did not become absolute, and the repeal of the law authorizing assessment and enforcement of the fines renders this matter moot. If, pending an appeal, an event occurs that makes a decision on the merits unnecessary or an award of effective relief impossible, the appeal will be dismissed as moot. In re Inspection of Minnesota Auto Specialties, Inc., 346 N.W.2d 657, 658 (Minn. 1984); Sprenger v. Jacobs, 305 N.W.2d 747 (Minn. 1981); In re Consolidation of Glendale with Savage, 288 Minn. 340, 180 N.W.2d 925 (1970).

The fines may not now be assessed because the sole authority for their assessment has been repealed. Even if we deem the fines assessed, they cannot be enforced. The matter is moot.

Appeal dismissed.