The Texas Supreme Court just handed a big win to Patricia Mosley, a nurse and home health aide, ruling that the government denied her right to due process after Mosley was blacklisted for allegedly neglecting a patient. Mosley sought to dispute the blacklisting, but the government gave her the wrong information, denying her right to issue a formal appeal. Learn more about this recent court ruling and what it says about nurses’ rights to due process.
Fighting Charges of Negligence
Patricia Mosley was working as a nurse and home health aide in Texas back in 2014, looking after a number of elderly patients. The Department of Aging and Disability Services investigated Mosley for allegedly neglecting a patient, and based on their findings, they ultimately recommended that Mosley be put on the department’s “Employee Misconduct Registry,” thus blacklisting her within the medical community. Being placed on this list bars healthcare providers from working at thousands of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
But Mosley wanted her day in court to dispute the charges. She requested a hearing before an administrative law judge, but her case was denied. After this initial ruling, the government sent Mosley information regarding the appeals process. According to a special administrative rule, Mosley had to petition for judicial review in a Travis County district court within 30 days. But this information turned out to be incorrect and misleading.
What Mosley should have done was file a motion for a rehearing before seeking judicial review. Following misleading information provided by the government, Mosley took the wrong course of action and failed to file the motion. In the end, her case was eventually dismissed, forcing Mosley to stay on the blacklist.
Texas Supreme Court Rules in Mosley’s Favor
But the story doesn’t end there. The case made its way to the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled that the government violated Mosley’s right to due process when it gave her misleading information regarding the appeals process. According to court documents, the government misinterpreted its own administrative rules, thus giving Mosley the wrong information.
In order to comply with the law, Mosley should’ve have disregarded the instructions she received from the government, and instead researched Chapter 48 of the Human Resources Code and Chapter 2001 of the Government Code, then compared her findings to the instructions quoted in the government’s letter. But, like most citizens, Mosley trusted the letter she received from the government, not realizing she had received inaccurate information.
The justice had this to say in court, “The same government that asks courts to put our faith in agency rulemaking says a regular citizen like Mosley was naive to do so” and “may forfeit their right to judicial review of the government’s deprivation of their liberty. But if ignorance of the law can’t be used defensively by Mosley, it also can’t be used offensively by the government.” Nor can the state “hold her responsible for the consequences of its own ignorance.”
Getting Her Rightful Day in Court
Thankfully the Texas Supreme Court ruled in Mosley’s favor, stating the government’s actions violated her right to due process of the law under the Texas Constitution, which is identical as the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The court added, “Mosley undoubtedly has a liberty interest entitled to due-process protection” considering “the placement of her name on the Registry threatens not only her right to engage in employment as a caregiver by effectively ending her career, but also damages her ‘good name, reputation, [and] honor.”
The justice directed the government to reinstate Mosley’s administrative case, giving her another chance to request a rehearing.
If a nurse is reprimanded or blacklisted for their actions on the job, they should have a right to due process and be able to appeal the decision in administrative court. Nurses should double-check the information they receive from administrative boards, the state and federal government to make sure it is consistent with their rights.
The case of Patricia Mosley reminds us that the government doesn’t always get it right, but citizens and healthcare providers can always turn to the judicial system to get their fair day in court.