Florida Appeals Court Upholds State’s Emergency Generator Rule

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Florida First District Court of Appeals

Florida Governor Rick Scott scored a victory in one part of a legal case against the state’s emergency generator rule.

Last month, Scott issued new emergency rule requiring all assisted living facilities (ALF) and nursing homes to install generators immediately. The requirement was “within the next 60 days” following the implementation of the emergency rule on September 16.  Failure to comply will result in penalties including fines up to $1,000 and possible revocation of a facility’s license.

The move comes after 14 elderly residents of a Broward County nursing home died in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills did not have an emergency generator. As a result, its elderly residents suffered in sweltering heat, for three days— the primary cause of their death.

The associations representing ALFs and nursing homes challenged the state’s emerging rule. They argued that there was no immediate danger or emergency justifying the governor’s action.

On Thursday, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals consolidated and denied three petitions for review of the state’s emergency generator rules. In a 2-1 ruling, the court rejected arguments that Scott’s administration did not provide legal justification for implementing the emergency rule.

The court did not provide a detailed explanation for its ruling. However, it said its written opinion on the matter will be available “at a later date.”

Florida AHCA is working to make the emergency rule permanent

In a statement, Scott said the court’s ruling “reaffirms our position that the top priority of nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be protecting the lives of their patients.”

Additionally, the governor said the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is working to make the emergency rule permanent. The agency is doing it through a public rule making process.

Furthermore, Scott said, “We will work with the Legislature to further protect patients. I’ve also called on the Constitution Revision Commission to look at measures to protect vulnerable individuals. I look forward to AHCA continuing to aggressively enforce these rules as we explore every possible way to protect Floridians.”

Moreover, the governor said, “Let’s remember that the tragedy at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is under criminal investigation”

The governor’s emergency rule is still facing a separate lawsuit filed with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). The associations representing the ALFs and nursing homes are challenging its validity.