Legal Updates

THIRD GRADE RETENTION Fourteen parents  filed a suit in Leon County Circuit Court seeking an injunction against seven school districts to prohibit the districts from retaining third grade students whose parents opted out of the Florida Standards Assessment test. Confusion exists throughout Florida’s public schools regarding whether opting out is a legitimate reason to retain students. The parents sought an emergency injunction to move their children to fourth grade, but the motion was denied, along with a defendant’s motion to move the case to federal court.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS WHISTLEBLOWER A Leon County Circuit judge issued an order requiring a Complaint Review Board hearing concerning the case of a Department of Corrections inspector who filed a lawsuit after being demoted. The inspector was denied whistleblower protection by the Governor’s Inspector General, subjecting him to retaliation according to the suit. The five member board concluded that the complaint against him was unfounded. He is currently seeking reinstatement to his previous position.

HEALTHCARE ANTITRUST SUIT Brevard County is the scene for an antitrust lawsuit which began on August 15th. A group of medical practices and doctors allege that Health First health system has violated federal antitrust laws by creating a near monopoly in southern Brevard County by owning hospitals, physician practices and health insurance plans. They contended that their finances and business relationships were negatively impacted. After one day of testimony, the two sides announced they had reached a confidential settlement agreement.

WATER STANDARDS On July 26th, the state Environmental Regulation Commission approved new controversial water standards. The regulations would allow for the increase in levels of over 100 toxic chemicals, including cancer causing compounds, in Florida’s waters. In response, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has filed an administrative lawsuit challenging the ruling based upon tribe members’ potential health risks as they consume large amounts of fish as part of their diet. A hearing is scheduled for September 6th and 7th.

MARIJUANA NURSERY Administrative Law Judge John van Laningham appears likely to authorize a seventh marijuana nursery license for the medical marijuana program. The original law allowed for one nursery in each of five Florida regions, but it provided for additional licenses where applicants successfully file challenges to the state. The judge’s ruling determined another unaffiliated nursery did not meet the dispensing requirement, but the law allows that nursery to keep its license to cultivate medical cannabis.

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