Court Decisions

The following section includes analyses of relevant Court decisions affecting the right to treatment or service which have an impact on State human resources and social service delivery, including possible changes in current programs, new programs, and other legislation.

Illinois Department of Central Management Services and Illinois Department of Human Services v. AFSCME Council 31 and Randall Valleroy, No. 08-0663 (5th Dist.)

This above matter arises out of the termination of Randall Valleroy (Valleroy), a Security Therapy Aide at Chester Mental Health Center (Chester). On January 13, 2007, Valleroy became involved in an altercation with a resident of Chester. The resident alleged that Valleroy choked and pushed him; the resident fought back, a fist fight ensued, and the resident suffered facial lacerations and was taken to the hospital. A criminal investigation by the Illinois State Police (ISP) was initiated on January 19, 2007. On April 4, 2007, ISP referred the matter to IDHS' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for further investigation after the Randolph County State's Attorney declined to prosecute Valleroy.

After investigating the incident, OIG concluded that the resident's injuries were the result of non-accidental actions by Valleroy and substantiated the allegation of physical abuse by Valleroy. IDHS terminated Valleroy and notified Valleroy that, in accordance with statutory mandate, his name would be reported to the Health Care Worker Registry (Registry). Valleroy sought to stay the reporting of his name to the Registry but, after a full hearing, IDHS' Administrative Law Judge concluded that IDHS had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the OIG's finding warranted reporting Valleroy's name to the Registry. On December 6, 2007, a final order was issued which ordered that Valleroy's name be added to the Registry.

Valleroy also grieved his discharge. The arbitration proceeding was conducted by Arbitrator Louis Stralka in June 2008. In his Award, Stralka concluded, inter alia:

Accordingly, the arbitrator is reasonably convinced that grievant intentionally struck [the resident] and grabbed him by the neck which by definition constitutes physical abuse. These actions were in violation of the various rules and regulations put forth by the State to justify its discharge of grievant. Furthermore, grievant also violated the various rules and regulations in that he failed to report the abuse.

However, despite this unequivocal finding of abuse, Stralka ordered IDHS to reverse Valleroy's termination:

Consistent with the above, the grievance is sustained in part and denied in part. The grievant shall be reinstated but with no back pay. The discharge shall be converted to a disciplinary suspension and a final warning. There shall be no loss of seniority.

The Department of Central Management Services and IDHS appealed the decision to the Circuit Court of Randolph County and the Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the arbitrator. Thereafter, the Attorney General's Office filed an appeal in the Appellate Court for the Fifth District. In the meantime, the AG's Office sought a stay of the Circuit Court's decision pending the Appellate Court's decision; the Circuit Court denied the request. The AG's Office then sought a stay of the Circuit Court's decision in the Appellate Court; that request, too, was denied.

This decision is inconsistent with the law and is extremely problematic for IDHS. Section 1-17(g-5) of the Department of Human Services Act requires IDHS' Inspector General to report to the Registry ''the identity of individuals against whom there has been a substantiated finding of physical or sexual abuse or egregious neglect of a service recipient.'' 20 ILCS 1305/1-17(g-5); see also 59 Ill. Adm. Code § 50.90(b). Further, Section 7.3 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Administrative Act provides that ''[t]he Department shall require that no facility, service agency, or support agency providing mental health or developmental disability services that is licensed, certified, operated, or funded by the Department shall employ a person, in any capacity, who is identified by the health care worker registry as having been subject to a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a service recipient.'' 20 ILCS 1705/7.3. These provisions clearly forbid IDHS from employing Valleroy, who was found unambiguously to have physically abused the resident, ''in any capacity''. Were IDHS to return Valleroy to work at Chester (or any other facility), IDHS would be acting in contravention of the foregoing statutory mandates.

Michael Jones v. HFS, et al., App. Ct. Nos. 3-05-550, 3-05-906 (3rd Dist.)

Jones brought suit in Whiteside County Circuit Court contesting a reduction in medical reimbursement as a result of his aging out of the Department Healthcare and Family Services/UIC Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) Program and placement into IDHS' Home Services Program. In 2005, the trial court entered two orders that obligated IDHS to maintain the DSCC level of funding during the pendency of Jones' claim. The DSCC rate was $17,000 per month and the HSP rate was $9,300 per month.

In July 2008, the trial court issued a permanent injunction ''enjoining [HFS and IDHS] from reducing coverage for Michael H. Jones to less than 136 hours per week of skilled nursing services by a registered nurse (R.N.) or licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.), at his parents' home, and an additional 336 hours of such skilled nursing hours per year as respite for his parents. These nursing hours will be covered at the rate utilized by the Defendants for in-home registered nursing (R.N.) or licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.) services in Whiteside County, Illinois, at the time the service is provided.''

The court also awarded Jones the costs of the litigation, including his costs and attorneys' fees. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) collaborates with many state and community partners to provide services to clients with multiple needs in a cost effective manner.