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Court rules FSSA notices are unconstitutional

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The Indiana Supreme Court has held that the notices sent by the state Family and Social Services Administration to inform applicants they were denied Medicaid, food stamps, or family assistance benefits are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s due process clause because they do not sufficiently explain the reasons for being denied.

In Sheila Perdue, et al. v. Michael A. Gargano, et al., No. 49S02-1107-PL-437, the justices partially reversed and affirmed the Marion Superior Court on a challenge to the state agency’s automated system of processing claims for benefits.

Plaintiffs brought a class action against the FSSA seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the administration of Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Sheila Perdue also brought an individual disability discrimination claim.

The trial court granted summary judgment to FSSA on plaintiffs’ claim that their procedural due process rights were violated, but it granted summary judgment to Perdue individually and to the class of SNAP applicants/recipients whose benefits were denied or terminated for failure to cooperate. On cross-appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment as to Perdue and as to those whose SNAP benefits were denied or terminated for failure to cooperate, and it reversed the award of summary judgment to FSSA, holding the procedures at issue did not afford plaintiffs due process.

Accepting the case, the Indiana justices held that the FSSA’s denial notices are insufficiently explanatory but that the agency may deny an application when that person fails to cooperate in the eligibility determination process. On that issue, this case is remanded to the trial court to adjudicate the plaintiffs' related claims for relief.

The justices agreed with the trial court’s grant of Perdue’s summary judgment motion on the grounds that she is entitled to reasonable accommodation in applying for benefits. But that accommodation doesn’t require the FSSA to provide a caseworker or case management services.




 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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