Cosmos E. Eneh, Relator,
Minnesota Department of Health, Respondent.
Department of Health
Onyemeh Sea, Sea Law Office, PLC, St. Paul, Minnesota (for
Swanson, Attorney General, Lindsay K. Strauss, Assistant
Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent).
Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge;
Schellhas, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
Minnesota Department of Health is not required to remove a
finding of physical abuse from the nursing-assistant registry
after the nursing assistant's disqualification period
under the Minnesota Department of Human Services Background
Studies Act (Background Studies Act), Minn. Stat.
§§ 245C.01-.34 (2016 & Supp. 2017), has ended.
STAUBER, Judge. [*]
certiorari appeal, relator Cosmos E. Eneh challenges a
decision by respondent Minnesota Department of Health denying
his request to remove a finding of maltreatment from the
state's nursing-assistant registry. He argues that
respondent acted arbitrarily and capriciously and misapplied
federal law. Because respondent correctly applied federal
law, which does not permit a finding of abuse to be removed
from a state's nursing-assistant registry, we affirm.
April 2008, relator was employed as a nursing assistant at a
St. Paul nursing home certified in the Medicare and Medicaid
programs. On April 28, 2008, a vulnerable adult identified
relator as the person who struck him in the eye, causing
bruising and swelling. Respondent completed an investigation
into the alleged assault and found, by a preponderance of the
evidence, that relator committed substantiated serious
maltreatment of a vulnerable adult by physically abusing the
nursing-home resident. Following the investigation, the
Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) informed relator
that the finding of substantiated serious maltreatment
disqualified him from employment in any position that allows
direct contact with persons receiving services from
facilities licensed by DHS and respondent, among
requested that respondent reconsider the maltreatment
determination and disqualification. Respondent denied
relator's request to set aside the disqualification,
indicating that relator posed a risk of harm to vulnerable
appeal hearing was held before a human-services judge (HSJ)
under Minn. Stat. § 256.045, subd. 3(a)(10) (Supp.
2017), on the issues of whether relator physically abused a
vulnerable adult, whether DHS correctly disqualified relator
on that basis, and whether respondent correctly denied
relator's request to set aside his disqualification. The
HSJ concluded that (1) relator committed substantiated
serious maltreatment of a vulnerable adult by physically
abusing the nursing-home resident; (2) relator was properly
disqualified from direct-contact services under Minn. Stat.
§§ 245C.14, subd. 1(a)(3), .15, subd. 4(b)(2); and
(3) the disqualification should not be set aside under Minn.
Stat. § 245C.22, subd. 4, because relator failed to show
that he did not pose a risk of harm to residents of a nursing
August 2009, the commissioner of health adopted the HSJ's
findings of fact and conclusions of law and ordered that a
summary of the findings be entered into relator's record
in the nursing-assistant registry maintained under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1395i-3(g)(1)(C), 1396r(g)(1)(C) (2012). The
following summary was entered into relator's record on
the nursing-assistant registry:
On April 28, 2008, Cosmos Eneh, while working as a Nursing
Assistant at Bethel Care Center in St. Paul, physically
abused a vulnerable adult. Another staff member saw the
[vulnerable adult] lying in bed with a swollen, bruised left
eye after Mr. Eneh had provided cares. The [vulnerable adult]
identified Mr. Eneh by description and name as the person who
had hit him in the eye.
October 7, 2016, relator requested that his disqualification
be set aside. Relator additionally requested "that the
[n]ursing [a]ssistant registry be notified that [relator] is
now permitted to work and have direct contact with persons
receiving services." Respondent notified relator that he
was no longer subject to the seven-year disqualification
period under Minn. Stat. § 245C.15, subd. 4(b)(2).
Respondent further explained that federal regulations do not
permit respondent to remove the finding of maltreatment from
the nursing-assistant registry because the maltreatment
involved physical abuse of a vulnerable adult, as opposed to
a single incident of neglect. Respondent ...