Lawyers Blast Bias In ALJ system; Urge Technical Adjudicators Remain

first_imgDave Stafford for www.theindianalawyer.comLawyers who practice before Indiana administrative law judges painted a picture Wednesday of a rigged, onerous system that overwhelmingly favors the government when parties appeal state agency actions.Meanwhile, attorneys who argue highly technical utility and environmental administrative matters urged the same legislative panel to retain systems of review they say require hearing officers who have particular subject matter expertise.The testimony came in a General Assembly study committee that’s considering proposals for Indiana to follow the lead of 30 other states by replacing the current ALJ system with independent panels deemed less beholden to the agencies that employ them.Quarles & Brady LLP partner Randall R. Fearnow represents health care providers before various state agencies. He told the committee that in 25 years of practice, he could count on one hand the number of times his client prevailed before an Indiana ALJ. He said he routinely advises clients to prepare to try their case before the ALJ, lose, and then be prepared retry the case in court. He said this structure means only clients who can afford to finance an appeal of an adverse agency decision do so.Fearnow called Indiana’s current ALJ structure an “expensive, cumbersome, and ultimately futile system.”In some cases, he said a Department of Health employee who represented a state agency in one matter later appeared as an administrative law judge in another involving his clients. Such a system produces arbitrary results at best, he said, and “breeds disrespect for the rule of law. … There is no way this process can be made to appear fair.”The Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code was referred proposals for reform after Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, introduced legislation this year that would have created central panelsto hear a range of government disputes.Steele said he pursued reforms because of perceptions that appellants can’t get a fair, unbiased hearing from ALJs or hearing officers employed by the agencies whose actions are being challenged.“There is an appearance of bias, and I would venture to say there is actual bias,” said solo attorney Linda B. Klain, who like Fearnow has represented parties in appeals of health agency rulings, and has served as an ALJ. She said ALJs in some agencies feel an expectation of how they should apply the law from the same department heads who evaluate them. She cited this as a reason why she quit serving as a contracted ALJ.Klain also said creating central panels of ALJs removed from agency oversight would improve efficiency, enhance independence and allow ALJs to share best practices, experience and expertise.The way Indiana agencies use ALJs varies, and some refer to them as hearing officers rather than ALJs. Legislative Services Agency senior fiscal analyst Mark Goodpaster shared results of a survey of agencies that showed 36 use an adjudicative process of some kind, mostly ALJs. Several use deputy attorneys general to resolve disputes, including several agencies that reported fewer than 10 cases annually.Goodpaster said there are 104 ALJs, 74 of whom are employees of state agencies. Steele suggested the state could “save this state of Indiana a ton just in salaries alone” by switching to administrative panels to hear these cases.Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, urged that panel to proceed cautiously, noting that 85 percent of the cases heard by ALJs involve benefits eligibility determinations of some kind from a handful of agencies. These include workers’ compensation and assistance to families in need among others.Lawyers who represent clients before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and before panels that hear appeals of decisions made by agencies under the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Management urged the panel to exempt these ALJs from any proposed central panel structure.Bose McKinney & Evans LLP partner Daniel McInerny said agency reviews of these actions were enacted because trial courts lacked the expertise, particularly in IDEM matters, and environmental lawyers favor keeping the current system. “If this is to be considered,” he said, “We think the idea of expertise needs to be preserved.“In the area of environmental law, we like the way it’s working right now,” McInerny said.Likewise, Bose partner Nikki Shoultz said the more than 200 utility lawyers in the Indiana State Bar unanimously favor excluding IURC from proposed ALJ panels. For most, the sentiment is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”The rate-setting agency reviews combine elements of engineering, accounting and finance, she said, and even after years practicing in this area, she’s always learning something new. “For me, it’s close to rocket science,” she said.Steele and others on the panel were skeptical of a survey of agencies that found ALJs are unbiased. Steele said he’d prefer to see surveys of those who appeared before the panels. Assistant attorney general David Miller said just 81 percent of cases heard by the office’s ALJs resulted in a win for the state, citing this as an example of fairness. Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, wasn’t swayed.“Anyone who’s successful 81 percent of the time is usually in the hall of fame,” Taylor quipped.The study committee will further discuss ALJ reform at its next meeting at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Statehouse. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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Press release: Minister Fairhead leads UK delegation to Bio 2018

first_img The Northern Powerhouse presence on the trade missions is particularly strong, with the Northern Health Science Alliance leading a 14-strong delegation involving 3 widely respected academics from the Universities of Manchester and York and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. This delegation will be highlighting the North of England’s strengths in the life sciences sector, where the region is leading the way. The North boasts a health services sector worth £30 billion, employing 500,000, and is home to more than a fifth of life science companies located in the UK. Northern Ireland also has clinical specialisms within the areas of oncology, cardiology, opthamology, respiratory and diabetes. Its new Centre of Excellence in Precision Medicine, in association with Queen’s University Belfast, joins a suite of research centres and centres of excellence which are attracting investment to the region. The Midlands offers a world-class research and innovation infrastructure including science and technology parks and business incubation facilities, and is home to the largest number of medical technology and device companies in the country. It is bringing a delegation of 10 outstanding companies to the UK Pavilion at Bio. In addition, Scottish Development International (SDI), is hosting a Scotland pavilion for Scottish life sciences companies. Over 600 life sciences organisations make Scotland one of the largest life sciences clusters in Europe, with innovation centres including stratified medicine, sensors and digital health. Wales, too, will be showcasing its strengths in medical technology, regenerative medicine, diagnostics, eHealth, pharmaceutical services and neuroscience. As a global leader in scientific innovation, with more than 5,500 life sciences companies, the UK’s offer to the world in this sector is clear. I am delighted to be joined on this trade mission by terrific businesses from all across the UK. The Department for International Trade will continue to use trade missions such as this to promote healthcare and life sciences innovators across the world, driving investment and forging trade ties that have the potential to further scientific boundaries and improve the lives of millions. DIT provides a wide range of export support for UK businesses, including the opportunity to join trade missions via great.gov.uk.BackgroundAll the UK regions are well represented on the visit: Having strong connectivity to the world’s most important markets is key to creating a balanced and outward facing UK economy. That is particularly the case when it comes to accessing global centres of excellence for high-growth sectors like life sciences. It is clear the North has a number of strengths in the area, including world leading universities and a proven track record for innovation and commercialisation. The availability of direct services to Boston from Manchester Airport only serves to enhance the international competitiveness of the sector, and North as a whole. British pharma exports to the US totaled more than £6 billion last year, 8% of all American pharma imports, whilst US medical exports to the UK totaled £1.6 billion – demonstrating the demand for UK life sciences expertise.Latest statistics from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show that health and life sciences are worth over £70 billion to the economy and provide jobs for almost 241,000 people across the country. The recent launch of the government’s Industrial Strategy Life Sciences Sector Deal, demonstrates how the government will support the sector to develop and launch the next generation of medicines, technologies and diagnostics and provide better care and treatments for millions of patients.The trade mission has a particular Northern Powerhouse angle as Virgin Atlantic have announced the reinstatement of the seasonal flight from Manchester Airport to Boston. The flight is a further boost for businesses across the Northern Powerhouse, increasing connectivity and ensuring Boston’s thriving financial and life sciences markets are made more accessible to UK companies.Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said: Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade, is today leading a strong delegation of UK life sciences businesses at the world-renowned Bio Conference.The UK pavilion at the conference will play host to 21 British organisations and will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS.16,000 people are expected to attend the event over the course of the 3 days, presenting huge opportunities for the innovative UK life sciences firms and thought leaders who are attending.The US is the world’s largest market for life sciences. Abingdon based PsiOxus is a great example of a UK company who are benefiting from the opportunities across the Atlantic. They have recently secured a deal with US counterpart Bristol Myers-Squibb that could be worth nearly $1 billion over the lifetime of the partnership.The likes of Alderley Park from Manchester, the Northern Health Science Alliance and Ulster University will join PsiOxus and Baroness Fairhead at the conference. Delegates will have the chance to attend networking forums, panel sessions and the UK Innovation Reception which will focus on showcasing the UK as ‘the home of health innovation’.Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, said: Further informationContact the DIT Media and Digital Team on 020 7008 3333 or follow us: @tradegovuk and gov.uk/ditlast_img read more

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