Document Sample

        JANUARY 2010
                                                TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHILDREN LEGAL SERVICES (previously Education/Juvenile). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

CIVIL RIGHTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

CONSUMER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

EMPLOYMENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

FAMILY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

HEALTH/SENIOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

HOMELESS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

HOUSING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40

MIGRANT FARMWORKER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .50

PUBLIC BENEFITS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67


1.   Children’s Access to Health Care/EPSDT

Numbers Affected:       Thousands

Summary: The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (“EPSDT”) program is a
comprehensive benefit available to all Medicaid-eligible children and youth through the age of
twenty (20). Under EPSDT, federal Medicaid law requires the state to cover services and
treatment necessary to correct or ameliorate defects and physical and mental illnesses and
conditions whether or not those services are covered under the state plan for adults. The state
of Florida, however, through state policies, managed care and a variety of other “utilization”
tools improperly limits or denies these services to needy children and youth. Children with
disabilities and children in foster care have a high need for EPSDT services, yet these children
often have the most difficulty accessing EPSDT services. Unfortunately, various professionals
working with children and youth, including judges, attorneys, health care providers and child
welfare staff are often unaware of their clients’ ESPDT rights and/or how to pursue enforcement
of these rights.

In addition, current practices relating to the assignment of children in foster care to Medicaid
HMOs appear to be making it even more difficult for some children in foster care to access
EPSDT services. Children in foster care are considered a “voluntary population” for the
purpose of Medicaid managed care enrollment. This means that these children are not required to
enroll in a Medicaid HMO and have the option to be in fee-for service Medicaid or the MediPass
program (a primary care case management program administered by AHCA). However, under
current practices thousands of children end up enrolled in Medicaid HMOs a few months after
entering care. Because DCF currently has no policies or directives to the CBCs relating to this
issue, it is not clear how these assignments to HMOS are being made. What is clear is that many
of these assignments are occurring without any consultation or notification to the child’s parents,
foster parents, or other caregivers. As a result, children are often unable to retain their current
health care providers causing disruptions and delays in accessing EPSDT services. Also, for any
specialty care they may need, they are restricted to the particular HMO’s network of providers.
These assignments create unnecessary access problems and disruptions in care for a population
which has dire needs for prompt and uninterrupted care.

FLS Advocates:      Anne Swerlick, Amy Guinan and Miriam Harmatz

Status!"In 2009, FLS staff met with Jim Kallinger, Chief Child Advocate within the Governor’s
Office to brief him on the EPSDT program and particular challenges for implementation of the
program in Florida. Mr. Kallinger is a member of the Children and Youth Cabinet comprised of
various agency heads. They are charged with promoting and implementing improved
collaboration and service delivery between and within state agencies serving children. At Chief
Kallinger’s invitation, FLS staff is scheduled to make a presentation to the Children’s Cabinet
about the EPSDT program at its March 2010 meeting.

As part of an effort to investigate the difficulties children in care have accessing behavioral
health services, through public records requests, FLS staff obtained copies of pertinent Medicaid
waiver applications and contracts relating to the Child Welfare Prepaid Mental Health Plan
(CW-PMHP). A resource paper relating to the CW-PMHP was prepared by FLS staff for the
CLS EPSDT Workgroup and other child advocates. The paper, which is available in the CLS
library of the CLS website, includes: an overview of the history and legal framework for
Florida’s mental health system for children/youth served by the child welfare system; basic
information on the prepaid mental health plans serving these children; and a list of potential
issues for future advocacy work. Other key documents describing the CW-PMHP have been
posted in the CLS library.

To further assist the ESPDT workgroup in its investigation of the behavioral health services of
children in care, FLS worked to develop relationships with the CBC Partnership, LTD - the
limited partnership AHCA contracts with to implement the CW-PMHP. As a result, a
representative of the CBC Partnership joined the EPSDT Workgroup at its in-person meeting in
September 2009, to discuss and provide answers to questions the EPSDT workgroup had about
the CW-PMHP.

As a result of our requests for assistance and action on these assignment problems, FLS was
asked by the Department of Children and Families to participate in its Implementation
Workgroup for the Medicaid Home for Children in Foster Care. As a member of this
Implementation Workgroup, FLS will continue to advocate for the adoption of policies and
procedures to ensure that children in the child welfare system are not inappropriately assigned to
HMOs and instead are provided with prompt and uninterrupted access to necessary EPSDT

Finally, through its membership on state advocacy and advisory boards, including the Kidcare
Coordinating Council, Florida’s Medical Care Advisory Committee, AHCA’s Medical Home
Task Force, and Florida’s Independent Living Services Advisory Council, FLS continues to
work to raise awareness of the barriers children face in accessing EPSDT services and to seek
assistance from the members of these advisory boards in finding ways to overcome these
2. Restorative Justice, Education Stability and School-based Prevention for Youth At Risk
of Entering the Juvenile Justice System.

Numbers Affected: Approximately 25,000 students are referred by schools to DJJ for
school-related incidents.

Summary: After over a decade of taking a “get tough” approach to juvenile crime, the state of
Florida has begun to recognize that its rigid zero tolerance policies and the criminalizing of
minor infractions that should be handled within the schools, have helped to create a juvenile
justice system that is heavily populated with low-risk and misdemeanant youth offenders whose
futures are jeopardized through inappropriately restrictive sanctions and disruptions in education
and necessary services. Adding to the alarm is that at every level of Florida’s juvenile justice
system there is a disproportionate population of minorities. As the state moves forward with
plans to reform Florida’s juvenile justice system, Florida Legal Services continues to advocate in
  collaboration with legal services programs and other agencies working on reform to ensure that
Florida’s juvenile justice system promotes education stability and school-based prevention for
youth at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.!
!       !       !
FLS Advocates: Andrea Costello (for FILS and FLS), Suzanne Estella, & Amy Guinan
Other Advocates: CLS School to Jail Work Group

Status: FLS continues to research and analyze the legal issues that have come to light through
Florida’s current juvenile justice reform effort. FLS is closely monitoring DJJ’s and DOE’s
progress in the implementation of the Blueprint Commission recommendations and in the
implementation of recent Zero Tolerance legislation. (See the CLS Legislative Advocacy
section below for more on the recent Zero Tolerance legislation.) Through its advocacy efforts,
FLS has established contacts and built relationships with children’s advocates involved in the
juvenile justice reform effort, as well as with DJJ staff. FLS is also monitoring the work of the
DJJ’s Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Task Force, which is tasked with identifying
ways to address minority over-representation in the juvenile justice system. During the summer
and fall of 2009, FLS participated in and monitored DJJ sponsored DMC forums throughout the
state, which are to be followed by DJJ’s development of local DMC plans. FLS is currently
working in collaboration with other CLS grantees to identify and develop appropriate responses,
including potential legal claims, if these DMC plans do not adequately address racial disparity in
the juvenile justice system.

During the summer of 2009, FLS also served on DJJ’s “Consensus Building Workgroup,” which
was formed to assist DJJ and the Department of Education (DOE) in developing guidelines for
the implementation recently passed legislation relating to school district’s zero tolerance policies.
 When the Consensus Building Workgroup was unable to come to a consensus on how the zero
tolerance policies should be implemented, FLS worked with other CLS grantees and children’s
advocates, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Advancement Project, and the
NAACP to draft a proposed zero tolerance rule in line with the intent of the zero tolerance
reform legislation. FLS advocated in support of this proposed rule at a Department of
Education proposed rulemaking workshop in August of 2009. Despite its initial reluctance to
recognize the zero tolerance statute and the need for local school districts to revise their policies,
DOE ultimately agreed to provide training to the local school districts on the requirements of the
revised zero tolerance statute.

In collaboration with the Children’s Legal Services’ School to Jail Work Group, FLS is working
with other CLS grantees to monitor how school districts throughout the state are amending their
zero tolerance policies to comply with the new zero tolerance statute. In December 2009, in
order to determine the extent DOE is requiring the school districts to comply with the new law,
FLS attended and monitored trainings DOE provided to local school districts on the revised zero
statute law. FLS will continue to monitor both DOE and the local school boards’ compliance
with the revised zero tolerance statutes.

FLS, in partnership with FILS, continues to investigate and research potential legal claims to
address the disparate impact of interruptions in the education process on members of racial
minority groups, who are typically referred to the juvenile justice system at a rate that is
alarmingly higher than non-minority children. In its advocacy efforts with state agencies and
private organizations involved in Florida’s juvenile justice reform effort, FLS continues to look
for opportunities to raise the issue of racial discrimination in the current system and to provide
assistance in developing alternative programs to address racial disparity.

3. Mental Health and Special Education Services to Youth in the Criminal Justice System
Numbers affected: Approximately 7000 children

Summary: Over that last two years, Florida Institutional Legal Services, Inc. (FILS) with!
assistance from FLS, has been conducting an investigation to identify children and youth in
Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities whose
rights are being violated through the state’s failure to provide adequate and necessary health care
and education services. Through our outreach to children in DJJ and DOC custody, it has been
confirmed that the violations of the rights of youth and adults in DOC are directly related to
similarly dramatic failures within the juvenile justice system. For example, the juvenile justice
system often fails to identify and treat the mental health needs of children in its custody and,
instead, prosecutes children in adult court for misbehavior. Once convicted, these children are
turned over to the DOC which considers their “offenses” in juvenile facilities as indicators that
they present enormous security risks to adult prisons. DOC also fails to provide adequate
education services to children in custody. The children who have not been identified by DOC
as entitled to special education services are denied all education services when they are placed in
confinement. Because youth can be placed in punitive confinement for months or years as a
result of minor rule infractions, many very young inmates receive absolutely no education
services. These policies are especially problematic for youth with special education needs.
These youth receive only a packet of written materials while they are in confinement, which
almost never meets their special education needs.

FLS Advocates:       Andrea Costello (for FILS and FLS)

Status: Through outreach and thorough reviews of education, medical/mental health care,
classification records and criminal case records, it has been confirmed that the mental health care
provided to children in prison and juvenile detention facilities is woefully inadequate. It has
been identified that many young inmates in DOC custody receive no education services because
they have been placed in confinement as punishment. It is now known that even the youth that
DOC has identified as needing special education assistance receive nearly no services when
DOC places them into punitive confinement. If volunteer agency reform cannot be achieved,
litigation may be required.
4. Protecting the Rights of Children with Disabilities in State Care

Numbers Affected:       Unknown due to under-identification

Summary: Children with developmental disabilities who are in state care are one of Florida’s
most vulnerable populations. Yet many of these children are not receiving services to address
their needs. To make matters worse, some children with disabilities in state care are not
identified as having a disability. If these children’s special needs are never identified and
assessed, they have virtually no hope of receiving the services and tools they need for a positive

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan and Anne Swerlick
Other Advocates: Florida’s Children First, CLS Disability Work Group

Status: FLS, Florida’s Children First (FCF) and the Children’s Legal Services Disability Work
Group continue to build on the collaborative relationships they built with the Department of
Children and Families (DCF) throughout the past year. These collaborative efforts have
enabled FLS to work together with DCF in identifying systemic problems and deficiencies in the
current eligibility determination system that are contributing to children in care being
inappropriately denied services. These problems include, but aren’t limited to: lack of
understanding by those working with children in care as to how to identify youth with disabilities
and refer them for appropriate assessment and services; computer system glitches and errors that
mistakenly kick children out of the system; and confusion regarding appropriate use of
assessment tools for ascertaining the needs of youth in care.

FLS is also working with the CLS Disability Workgroup to increase legal representation of
children with disabilities in foster care. The Disability Workgroup is in the process of
surveying Community Based Care organizations (CBCs) to ascertain how many children in care
have legal needs related to the provision of Developmental Disability services. Once these
surveys are completed and children with legal needs relating to development disability services
are identify, FLS will work with the Disability Workgroup to identify and train pro bono lawyers
to represent these children.
5. Florida KidCare

Number affected: About 1.5 million children/youth (0-18 years)

Summary:      An estimated 500,000 uninsured Florida children may qualify for existing
coverage programs such as the Florida Kidcare program, but are not currently enrolled. The
Florida KidCare program, which includes coverage under Medicaid and the State Children’s
Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), is Florida’s umbrella child health insurance program geared
towards children/youth living in households at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Florida Covering Kids and Families is a statewide program to ensure that all eligible children
and families are enrolled in the Florida KidCare Program. The program recruits KidCare
Partners to actively work to provide materials and applications to help families get health

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan, Anne Swerlick, Miriam Harmatz

Status: In 2009, FLS officially became a Partner with the Covering Kids and Families program.
In addition to informing the clients about KidCare healthcare coverage, disseminating enrollment
information and materials, and helping clients navigate the application process, FLS recruited 10
additional legal services programs throughout the state to become KidCare Partners with the
Covering Kids and Families program. FLS also is a member of the Florida KidCare
Coordinating Council, which is responsible for providing an annual report and recommendations
for improving the Florida KidCare program to the Governor.
6. Implementation of McKinney Vento Act for Homeless Children                      (Region VII)

Number affected: Hundreds in Miami-Dade County

Summary: The McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act, among other provisions,
specifically provides that homeless children have a right to continue attending their school of
origin, which is defined as the school that the child was attending when permanently housed or
the school in which the child was last enrolled. The Act requires the local educational agency
(usually the school board) to implement the law and provides numerous actions the agency must
take to assure that the provisions of the law are carried out. The Miami-Dade County School
Board has not been effectively implementing the law: parents are not being informed of their
rights; transportation to school of origin is not being provided; and few children remain in their
school of origin.

FLS Advocate:     Arthur Rosenberg, with LSGMI

Other Advocate:     Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc.

Status: FLS continues work with LSGMI and the Miami Coalition for the Homeless to assure
adherence to the requirements of the McKinney Vento Act. Improvement has been made.
Monitoring and evaluation are ongoing.


1.   Florida KidCare

Number affected: About 1.5 million children/youth (0-18 years)

Summary: The Florida KidCare program is Florida’s umbrella child health insurance program
geared towards children/youth living in households at or below 200% of the federal poverty
level. It is estimated that there are nearly 500,000 uninsured children in Florida that qualify for
this program. Florida’s program is extraordinarily complex (including 4 different components
and multiple administering agencies) and it is very difficult for families to apply and stay on the
program. For example, about 10,000 children become ineligible for Medicaid each month and do
not transition to another KidCare program component despite their eligibility. Further, over the
past 10 years that the program has existed Florida has lost nearly $140 million of federal funding
allocated to it for child health insurance because of a range of state created program barriers.

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan, Anne Swerlick, Arthur Rosenberg and Dorene Barker
Other Advocates: Coalition of Child Advocates

Status: For the last several years, FLS has worked with a coalition of child advocates and
provider groups to obtain passage of legislation to address the above-described systemic
problems with Florida KidCare. In May 2009, years of unwavering efforts by the coalition of
child advocates paid off when SB 918 relating to KidCare streamlining was passed by the
Legislature on the last day of the regular session.

SB 918 removed some of the administrative barriers and improve program efficiency resulting in
administrative savings, make it significantly easier for families to enroll eligible children,
improve renewal and retention rates, and increase access to health care and better health
outcomes for more uninsured children. Specifically, the changes in SB 918 required the family
income of applicants to be verified electronically; decreased the period of time that a child is
disenrolled from the KidCare program from nonpayment of premiums from 60 days to 30 days;
reduced the waiting period from 6 months to 60 days for KidCare eligibility for families that
have voluntarily cancelled their employer-sponsored or private health insurance coverage;
increased the number of “good cause” reasons that families can use to voluntarily cancel their
health insurance coverage and be immediately eligible for KidCare coverage without a waiting
period; and required the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. to develop a plan to publicize the Florida
KidCare Program as a whole rather than the Health Kids program only.

During the upcoming 2010 Legislative Session, FLS will continue to work with other child
advocates to support legislation that continues to streamline and improve Kidcare enrollment and
retention procedures. These improvements are necessary to ensure that eligible, uninsured
children are able to receive Kidcare coverage and would include: implementing presumptive
eligibility for Title XXI for children who lose Medicaid to reduce gaps in coverage;
implementing 12 months of continuous eligibility for all Florida Kidcare components; and
eliminating the 5 year waiting period that Florida now imposes on lawfully residing immigrant
children and pregnant women who would otherwise qualify for Kidcare.

FLS also is a member of the Florida KidCare Coordinating Council which makes annual
recommendations to the Legislature for program improvements. This year the KCC’s
recommendations included the provisions listed above.

2. Implementation of the Blueprint Commission Recommendations and Zero Tolerance

Numbers Affected: Approximately 25,000 students are referred by schools to DJJ for
school-related incidents.

Summary:!In July 2007, Governor Crist authorized the creation of the Blueprint Commission on
Juvenile Justice for the purpose of developing recommendations to reform Florida’s juvenile
justice system. The Commission issued its report, entitled “Getting Smart About Juvenile
Justice in Florida,” in January 2008. For the last two years, FLS and child advocates across the
state, as well as the Department of Juvenile Justice, have been working together to implement
these recommendations, several of which require legislation.                 Several Blueprint
Commission-related bills were proposed in 2009, including one to amend schools’ zero
tolerances policies, which was the only one to pass. (See the CLS Administrative Advocacy
section above for more on the implementation of the recent Zero Tolerance legislation.)

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan, Suzanne Estella, Arthur Rosenberg and Dorene Barker
Other Advocates: NAACP, Coalition of Advocates or Child Advocates

Status: During upcoming 2010 session, FLS will continue our work in support of legislation to
implement the recommendations made Florida’s Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice,
including: developing and promoting early intervention, prevention, alternative and diversion
programs for youth at risk of entering the juvenile justice system or first time offenders; creating
alternatives to secure detention for youth who are eligible for secure detention but whose risk to
public safety does not require this costly level of control; and amending Medicaid policies to
prevent the disenrollment of benefits for previously eligible youth committed to high or
maximum risk programs under the Department of Juvenile Justice and minimize disruption of
benefits upon release from the juvenile justice system; allowing continued coverage for eligible
youth for six months after release from commitment programs to allow the opportunity to
complete treatment; and developing programs to address minority over-representation in the
juvenile justice system.

3. Interrogation of a Child

Numbers affected: Thousands of children statewide

Summary: Currently, Florida law treats children -- no matter how young -- the same as adults if
they are suspected of having committed a crime. A police officer may take a child who is
suspected of a crime into custody and interrogate the child without first advising the child’s
parent of the child’s whereabouts or the circumstances surrounding the interrogation.

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan, Suzanne Estella, Arthur Rosenberg and Dorene Barker

Status: During the summer and fall of 2009, FLS worked with Children’s Legal Services

attorneys, including members of the CLS grantees School to Jail Workgroup, and other
children’s advocates, including Florida’s Children’s Campaign and state university child
advocate clinics, to research the issue of lack of notice to parents prior to the interrogation of a
child and to draft a proposed bill to address the matter. FLS and the CLS School to Jail Work
Group drafted a bill to amend Chapter 985, F.S. to require that notice be given to a parent
whenever a child is taken into custody for interrogation by a law enforcement officer. FLS is
currently working to educate lawmakers on this issue and will work in support of this proposed
legislation during the upcoming 2010 Legislative Session.

4.   Use of Seclusion and Restraint of Students in Public Schools

Numbers affected: Thousands of students statewide

Summary: The use of seclusion and restraint of students in schools has become a highly
publicized issue of concern at both the state and federal level. In May 2009, a report published
by the United State’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified Florida as one of
nineteen states that have no laws or regulations related to the use of seclusion or restraints in
schools. The GAO included case examples of 5 student victims in Florida who were gagged
and restrained with duct-taped for misbehaving. The GAO report also found that most of the
allegations of the improper use of seclusion and restraints involve children with disabilities.

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan, Suzanne Estella, Arthur Rosenberg and Dorene Barker

Status: During the upcoming 2010 Session, FLS will be working in collaboration with other
CLS grantees and children’s advocacy groups to educate policymakers on this issue and to
advocate in support of HB 81, sponsored by Representative Hukill. HB 81 amends Chapter
1003, F.S., to include provisions that: allow for physical restraints to be used only in an
emergency when there is an imminent risk of serious injury or death to the student or others;
prohibit school personnel from placing a student in seclusion; and clearly set out the required
procedures, training, and reporting for when restraints are used.


FLS Advocates: Anne Swerlick, Amy Guinan, Miriam Harmatz

EPSDT Workgroup
FLS leads the EPSDT Work Group comprised of children’s legal services grantees throughout
the state who are working on specific projects to improve EPSDT services in the state. The
projects address the problems of lack of awareness in the child welfare community about rights
to EPSDT services, difficulties accessing appropriate behavioral services, particularly for
children with cognitive disabilities, access barriers caused by Florida’s overly restrictive medical
necessity and disruptions in Medicaid eligibility for children in care. FLS staff organize and
convene monthly conference calls of the Workgroup and provide ongoing technical support and
assistance to advocates working on these projects.!

CLS Technical Assistance
FLS provides technical assistance to advocates individually and through its in-house CLS
website, at This site includes
list-serves for all the CLS grantees, as well as specific list-serves for those advocates working on
specified issues. The CLS website also includes an extensive “Library”, indexed according to
specific issues. This Library includes relevant statutes, regulations and case law, in addition to
advocate check-lists and pleadings. FLS also provides technical assistance to other CLS
grantees and child attorneys who are appealing agency decisions based on the state’s unlawful
application of its restrictive “medical necessity” rule.

                                       CIVIL RIGHTS

Other Advocacy:

Civil Rights – Immigrants’ Civil Rights

1. Trail of Dreams Project, Civil Rights of Immigrants (state-wide)

Summary: FLS provides as-needed support on civil liberties matters related to the “Trail of
Dreams,” a project of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Students Working for Equal Rights, a
grassroots organization led by immigrant students. A group of immigrant college students are
walking from Miami, FL to Washington, DC to advocate in favor of just and humane
immigration reform and access to higher education for immigrant students. They have called the
walk their “Trail of Dreams.”

FLS Advocates:      José J. Rodríguez, Community Justice Project of FLS

Other Advocates: Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Civil Liberties Union of

Status – The students safely reached the District of Columbia today and anre planning a protest
involving civil disobedience to take place on May 1st. As such our formal role has ended
successfully. In addition to a significant coordinating/logistical role, FLS provided critical
support in securing emergency legal response teams – to be on retainer for the students’ civil
rights needs involving non-immigration authorities (i.e. networks of local criminal and civil
rights lawyers) – in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and the District of Columbia. We were
unable to do so for South Carolina. We also assisted in securing some immigration first to be
on retainer for the students in North Carolina and Virginia where 287g counties weerwe of

2. Freedom of Information Act Request on behalf of immigrants in South Dade related to
Immigration Authorities’ abuses and violation of civil rights (Region VII)

Summary: FLS, in collaboration with the FIU College of Law Office of Clinical Programs,
submitted a Freedom of Information Act requests related to Immigration and Customs
Enforcement field operations and treatment of detainees in a series of raids in November 2008 in

Southern Miami-Dade County. A half dozen individuals suffered from ICE’s excessive use of
physical force and approximately three times as many suffered by ICE’s improper confiscation
of properly and travel documents.

FLS Advocates:     José J. Rodríguez, Community Justice Project of FLS

Other Advocates: Florida International University College of Law, Carlos A. Costa
Immigration and Human Rights Clinic.

Status: FLS filed the request on November 19, 2009 and received a response this month
claiming a number of exceptions. Clinical students from the FIU College of Law are assisting
FLS in responding to ICE’s claims of exemption.

Civil Rights – Voting Rights & Civic Engagement

3. On Behalf of the Miami Worker Center in Re-Tax and voting Rights Law in 2009

Number Affected:     thousands

Summary: FLS supported the civic participation and get-out-the-vote programs of the Miami
Worker Center by counseling the organization on voting rights law and on compliance with
federal tax law and Florida corporate law; in addition, FLS has provided training to the Miami
Worker Centers' leadership and staff on the same.

FLS Advocates: José J. Rodríguez, Community Justice Project of FLS

Other Advocates: Florida & Miami-Dade Election Protection Committees.

Status: The Miami Worker Center’s know-your-rights and get-out-the-vote efforts have
reached approximately eight thousand of people.



1.   Teo’fila Perello’ v. U.S. Department of Education                           (Region VII)

Summary: On behalf of one of the lead plaintiffs in FLS’s 2007-08 class action to enforce the
City of Miami’s Living Wage Law (Ochoa, Perello & Hersey v. SFM Services, Inc. & SFM
Janitorial Services, LLC), FLS succeeded in the discharge of over $24,000 in spurious
educational debt and fees owed to the Department of Educaiton as well as in recovering nearly
$3,500 in wrongly garnished income.

FLS Advocates: Jose J. Rodriguez, Community Justice Project of FLS

Status: Discharge of over $24,000 in spurious educational debt and fees owed to the Department
of Education, as well as in recovering nearly $3,500 in wrongly garnished income.



THE INNOCENT TENANT: Foreclosure wreaks havoc not only on homeowners but
increasingly on renters. The federal government passed Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure act,
P.L. 11-222, effective May 20, 2009. The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee staff has
convened several meetings of stakeholders to determine the application of this law to Florida’s
Residential Landlord Tenant Act, Part II, Chapter 83. It is abundantly clear that without
revisions of Part II, Chapter 83, there is and will continue to be confusion statewide among
tenants, servicers and courts.

FLS Advocates: Alice Vickers, Dorene Barker

Status: FLS strongly support legislation that revises Florida’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act
to fully incorporate the protection for tenants intended by the federal law. We support Senator
Gelber’s bill, SB 606 and Representative Bris’s bill, HB 415.

families by protecting the income of the head of household from wage garnishment. In 1993
the Florida legislature limited wage garnishment for the head of houselhold; the head of family
with a net wage less than $500 a week is exempt from attachment or garnishment. Based on the
Consumer Price Index, $500 in 1993 would be equal to $750 today. The exemption amount
should be increased to account for inflation. Current law also provides for a waiver of the head
of family exemption for those netting more than $500 per week if the consumer has “agreed
otherwise in writing.” This waiver should be made clear so consumers understand the
important rights they are waiving.

FLS Advocates: Alice Vickers, Dorene Barker
Status: FLS supports legislation filed by Senator Smith, SB 492 and Representative Brise, HB
409, which address these problems.



1.   Florida Attorneys Saving Homes Project

Number Affected: Thousands

Summary: The Florida Bar along with Florida Legal Services began the Florida Attorneys
Saving Homes program in June, 2008 as the foreclosure crisis began to tighten its grip on
Florida’s economy and its court system. Other partners include The Florida Bar Foundation,
the Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section, the Business Law Section, the Young Lawyers
Division and Attorneys Title Insurance Fund. Through the program, homeowners who are not
yet in foreclosure are paired with volunteer attorneys with the goal of negotiating with lenders to
avoid foreclosure. To be eligible for assistance, homeowners must be Florida residents and
must reside in the homes that are in danger of being foreclosed. Additionally, they must be
financially disadvantaged. The program has closed 1259 cases. Roughly 8 percent of thee
cases were closed after attorneys successfully negotiated settlements, with or without litigation.
The FASH program continued its efforts to assist Florida homeowners avoid foreclosure by
good-faith negotiation with lenders.

FLS Advocates: Jennifer Newton, Sheila Meehan, Alice Vickers, Sanyika Townsend, Jo
Shaw, Blanca Schuknecht
Partners: The Florida Bar; Florida Bar Foundation; Real Property, Probate and Trust Law
Section of the Bar; Business Law Section of the Bar; and Young Lawyers Section of the Bar

Status: The advocates for FASH continue to recruit volunteers and screen requests for
assistance. We are refining our bank contacts with the help of CFO Alex Sink; adding to our
web library and providing webinars; and reviewing our data. Success in the form of meaningful
negotiations has been limited. We are monitoring the rapidly changing federal programs,
assisting the volunteer attorneys and studying our data for ways to improve our success rate.

2.   Client Negotiations with Countrywide/Bank of America and Chase

Number Affected: Three

Summary: Client A, an elderly divorced grandmother with a part-time job supplemented by
social security, refinanced her home with a predatory loan. She was injured and suffered a
loss of income causing her to default on her interest-only loan. Negotiations with servicer

Countrywide/Bank of America are ongoing to attempt to provide her with a monthly payment
that is within her means and recognizes her loss of home value.

Status: She qualifies for the multistate settlement Florida entered into with Countrywide and is
currently being evaluated for a HAMP modification.

Client B is the mother of three minor children who was conned into refinancing into a 3 year
ARM with a promise that she would be able to refinance the loan within a short period of time.
On the same month that she was set to refinance, she lost her job of ten years. Later that evening,
her ex-husband was arrested for a domestic violence act against her which left her in the hospital
requiring two heart surgeries. Because of the charges against him, he refused to sign the closing
papers. The lender subsequently pulled the loan and cancelled the refinance offer.

Status: FLS assisted her with removing her ex-husband’s name from the loan and obtaining a
loan modification which enabled her family to keep their home from going into foreclosure.

Client C and her family have lived in their home for more than 15 years. She is self-employed
and has operated her in-home day care business for almost 13 years. She is married and is
currently supporting one child. Due to her husband being laid off from his job of twenty-five
years, she has now become the sole breadwinner of the family. This has put a tremendous
financial strain on her family as they are now forced to live off of one income. Additionally,
her day care business, which is her only source of income, is experiencing a tremendous decline
in business. The turbulent state of the economy has caused several of her loyal clients to pull
their children away from her day care center and send them to family members for care. Within
the past year alone, business for her day care center has dropped significantly. As a result of
having to solely provide for her family on her reduced income, she has been unable to make her
mortgage payments.

Status: FLS assisted her with obtaining a loan modification through the Making Home
Affordable Program, which has significantly reduced her monthly payments. FLS will continue
to monitor her progress in the MHA program.

FLS Advocates: Alice Vickers, Jennifer Newton

3.   NeighborWorks National Foreclosure Counseling Grant

Number Affected: Thousands

Summary: Florida Legal Services, Inc. partnered with Florida Housing Finance Corporation
(FHFC) in its application for the NeighborWorks National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling
Program. FHFC, with our help, was successful in its grant application and $1,854,300 (of $30
million available nationally) was awarded to Florida. The grant funds must be used for legal
services attorneys to work with housing counselors in evaluating homeowners' mortgages and
assisting with all aspects of modification of the home loan. No grant money may be used for


FLS Advocate: Kent Spuhler, Alice Vickers
Partners: Susan Parks, Florida Housing Finance Corporation

Status: While it took a good deal of time to get the contract between FHGFC and FLS
approved along with the forms for referral and invoicing, the project was launched first in South
Florida in October 2009. The project has also been rolled out in Region II, North Central and
East Florida,and will be rolled out in the rest of Florida in early 2010. Over $ 100,000 has been
invoiced for legal services/legal aid programs so far.

                                             EMPLOYMENT         "

!      !       !      !       !                                 !

1. Wage Theft Ordinance for Miami-Dade County (proposed) (Region VII)

Number Affected:      Tens of Thousands

Summary: FLS has provided support to the Wage Theft Task Force, an (unincorporated)
coalition of over a dozen religious, labor and community organizations who seek to create a
Wage Theft Ordinance in Miami-Dade County authority to hear claims of wage non-payments.
This effort is being followed nationally because the law, if passed, would be unique and
significant step forward in the local strengthening and enforcement of wage laws. FLS has
counseled the coalition on a range of policy matters related to wage nonpayment and has drafted
and edited the proposed ordinance based on the task force’s changing priorities.

FLS Advocates: Jose Javier Rodriguez (Community Justice Project) Arthur Rosenberg

Status: After drafting a preliminary version of the proposed ordinance for the Wage Theft
Task Force and supporting the task force’s legislative efforts, the ordinance was introduced in
December and it is anticipated the ordinance will be voted on in early 2010.

2.   Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Extended Benefits

Numbers affected: 120,000 unemployed workers

FLS Advocates: Arthur Rosenberg, Dorene Barker

Summary: Over the past few years, FLS has sought legislation to modernize Florida’s
unemployment compensation system to enable greater access to low income workers. While
successful in securing passage in our state Senate in two successive sessions, passage in the
House never occurred.

Last year, UC modernization became a priority of the Democratic majority in Congress, and FLS
 worked with the National Employment Law Project to secure passage. Anticipating its
passage, FLS worked to pass state legislation to implement the stimulus modernization in
Florida. Senator Tony Hill (SB 516) and Representative KevinRader (HB 1333) sponsored

legislation for the 2009 session. In spite of strong support in the Senate and widespread media
coverage and support, a modernization bill did not pass. Both sponsors are filing bills for the
2010 session.

Passage of these bills would modernize Florida’s UC system and provide for an immediate
infusion of $444 million from ARRA into our eroding Trust Fund. The linchpin of the bill is
the Alternative Base Period (ABP). In order to receive any money, this must be enacted.
Because of outdated eligibility rules that do not count their most recent work, many workers fall
through the cracks of the unemployment system. This historical anachronism, left over from a
time when it took months to add up and transmit a worker’s wages from handwritten records to a
distant state agency, today subsists in an era of instantaneous computer calculation and electronic
transmissions. The ABP would simply allow wages worked in a worker’s last completed
quarter of work to be counted toward UC eligibility. 34 states already have the ABP. About
27,000 unemployed workers would be eligible for UC under the ABP and about $45 million
would be paid to them in benefits. Passage of only the ABP portion of SB 516 would bring
$148 million in Federal money to Florida.

To receive the full amount of the UC modernization stimulus money authorized by ARRA,
Florida must pass the ABP and two other components prescribed by ARRA. The other two
components proposed are part-time coverage, and compelling family reasons for leaving work.
The part-time section is in part already being implemented by AWI pursuant to §.6220 B. 4 of
the UC adjudication manual. Little change would come from this statutory provision, but
USDOL requires it to be in statutory form. Another 6,000 workers would be eligible for UC at
a cost of $8 million. The compelling family reasons include providing UC to workers who
must cease employment because of 1) domestic violence, 2) to follow a spouse who has been
transferred, or 3) to take care of a sick immediate family member. About 6,400 workers would
become eligible for UC at a cost of about $18 million. Passage of these two provisions would
bring $296 million to Florida, in addition to the $148 million for the ABP.

Passage in its entirety would provide UC to an additional 40,000 workers at a cost to the trust
fund of about $70 million per year. The $444 million provided to Florida upon passage would
cover these benefits for a little over 6 years.

Although the UI Modernization did not pass, we were successful in securing passage of SB810,
which provided an additional 13 weeks of fully federally funded UC to workers who have run
out of benefits. This legislation enabled 80,000 unemployed workers to receive extended
benefits and brought $500 million of federal funds to Florida.

1. On Behalf of Day Laborers in South Dade on Wage and Hour Matters, Including
Successful Use of Construction Liens.

Number Affected:      Dozens

Summary: FLS has continued it’s support of the work of WeCount!, a human rights
membership organization in Homestead, FL, in its efforts to advocate for the rights of day
laborers. FLS has provided support to WeCount by conducting regular “case reviews”
regarding troublesome cases or recurring initiatives; consulting on local legislative and policy
initiatives; and developing and helping to conduct “know your rights” workshops for
WeCount!’s membership. FLS has also represented individual or small groups of low -wage
workers referred by WeCount in order to recover unpaid and under-paid wages.

FLS Advocates: Jose J. Rodriguez, Community Justice Project of FLS, (CJP)

Status: In addition to direct support to WeCount!’s workers center, FLS recovered unjustly
withheld wages for low-wage workers, including successful use of the Florida’s Construction
Lien Law.

2. Vilna v Miami-Dade County, Florida, Code Enforcement System for Miami-Dade
County, Citation No. 2009-B087206

Number Affected:      Hundreds

Summary: FLS represents a taxicab driver challenging ultra vires law enforcement by
Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Department who has been issuing civil citations since
2006 for “Sunpass violation,” for which it has no legislative authority. The County’s Sunpass
policy attempted to make it a civil offense for taxicab drivers to fail to maintain a Sunpass
transponder in the taxicab they were driving without ever passing an ordinance that made this a
code violation, amounting to code enforcement without a code.

FLS Advocates: Jose J. Rodriguez, Community Justice Project of FLS

Status: Hearing indefinitely rescheduled by Miami-Dade County. After the matter received
media coverage, the County publicly announced it would review it’s Sunpass policy.


1.   Indexing of Miami Beach Living Wage Law

Number Affected:      Thousands

Summary: FLS, in conjunction with groups of affected workers, has conducted public records
requests and engaged in advocacy related to the City of Miami Beach’s failure to properly index
their living wage rate to increases in the Consumer Price Index.

FLS Advocates: Jose Javier Rodriguez (Community Justice Project), Arthur Rosenberg

STATUS: At the City of Miami Beach Commission meeting on May 12th, the City will
consider on first reading amendments to the Living Wage Ordinance. The amendments will

increase the health benefit credit from $1.25/hr to $1.64/hr and put in place an increase in the
living wage over three years. The living wage rate is currently at the same rate as when it was
passed nine years ago: $8.56/hr with health benefits, $9.81/hr without. According to the
proposed ordinance a phased-in increase beginning on October 1st of this year will mean that by
fiscal year 2012-2013 the living wage rate will reach $11.28/hr with health benefits, $12.92/hr
without. In addition, along with SEIU 32bj we are working with Commissioners and City staff
to make sure the changes strengthen or at least preserve the ordinance’s private right of action
and anti-retaliation provisions.



1.   Indigence Determination and Fees and Costs Payment Plans

Summary: FLS is working to improve access to courts through the amendatory process in the
2009 Florida Legislature. FLS attempted to return to waiver of civil filing fees for indigent
people as a part of the larger process by others to reform the clerk and court budget processes.
In addition, many legal aid programs are pursuing litigation of filing fee cases against clerks all
over the state. The Florida Bar Foundation (FBF) contracted with Florida Tax Watch in 2008 to
conduct a study of the impact of the current indigent court fee payment plan system, and the
study recommended a return to waiver of fees for indigent civil court litigants.

FLS Advocates:       Ann Perko, Kent Spuhler, Dorene Barker and Arthur Rosenberg

Other Advocates: PDA, Board Members, legal aid lawyers, and Florid Bar lobbyists Steve
Metz and Josh Doyle

Status: FLS is very happy to report the successful passage of SB 1718 in May of the 2009
Legislative Session, which restored complete waiver of filing fees for indigent persons. FLS
conducted a webinar training in June, 2009 to inform the legal services community of the
changes. FLS is monitoring the implementation of the law, and assisting programs where clerks
of court are refusing to grant the waiver. FLS is also monitoring this issue through the 2010
legislative session to make sure the fee waiver is not changed or revoked.

2. Parent Coordination

Summary: FLS has been working on comprehensive regulation of Parent Coordination (PC) in a
variety of different forums. Kent Spuhler worked with an ad hoc committee of the Supreme
Court to create an Administrative Order, and with a multidisciplinary group put together by the
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) to create legislation. Ann Perko has also
been working on the legislation with the AFCC committee and with an ad hoc committee created
by The Florida Bar Family Law Section with the goal of filing and passing a bill to regulate this
practice. Our primary goals are to prevent indigent persons from incurring large debts to a parent
coordinator, protect the rights and safety of domestic violence victims, and to insure the
confidentiality of the process.

FLS Advocates: Kent Spuhler, Ann Perko, Dionne Meyers, Dorene Barker and Arthur

Status: The legislation drafted by the committee was passed in SB 904 in May, 2009 Legislative
Session. The new law which creates a process so that a person found indigent under 57.082 will
not be sent to parent coordination unless an alternative means of the PC being paid is available,
the process is confidential with certain exceptions, and domestic violence victims are protected.
Ann Perko is currently serving on the FLAFCC PC Ethical Guidelines Committee creating a
framework of ethical rules to regulate the PC practice.

3.   Florida Bar Domestic Violence Committee

Summary: FLS’ Family Law Section has become more involved with the Florida Bar’s
Domestic Violence Committee. Suzanne Estrella and Dionne Meyers attended the Domestic
Violence Committee meeting held in June 2009 at the annual Florida Bar Convention in
Orlando, Florida. They provided information to the committee concerning the dangers to
domestic violence victims within the proposed legislation of Chapter 741; specifically addressing
the prohibition to unmarried mothers who do not reside with the father of the child from filing
for a domestic violence injunction without first filing a petition to establish paternity. Because
of the domestic violence legal hotline, FLS was uniquely positioned to provide a voice for
victims throughout the state that would be harmed by the proposed legislation. The proposed
change would result in the chilling effect, most notably the delay from escaping violence but also
the imposition of new barriers to those seeking the protection of the courts. FLS is
collaborating with Attorney Nina Zollo and FCADV to address this issue. Suzanne Estrella and
Dionne Meyers also serve as members of the DV Injunctions & Firearms subcommittee, a
subcommittee of the Florida Bar’s Domestic Violence Committee, to assist in efforts addressing
systemic issues involving the removal of firearms at the issuance of a domestic violence

FLS Advocates:       Suzanne Estrella and Dionne Meyers

Status: FLS’ Family Law Section continues to work with the Florida Bar’s Domestic Violence
Committee. We participated on several conference calls with the firearms sub-committee to
assist in efforts addressing systemic issues involving the removal of firearms at the issuance of a
domestic violence injunction. We are also participating on the Paternity Issues sub-committee
at the request of the sub-committee’s chair. This committee is reviewing the proposal of
mandatory child support in DV injunctions and how this issue could be addressed if paternity has
not been established.


1. Domestic Violence Legal Hotline (FLS)!
Summary: FLS entered into a contract with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
(FCADV) for a thirteenth year. The funding for FLS is for the continued operation of the
Statewide Domestic Violence Legal Hotline which provides legal consultation, advice and brief
services, along with referrals for more extensive legal representation from local legal aid
programs and for assistance from the domestic violence centers.

FLS Advocates: Ann Perko, Suzanne Estrella, Dionne Meyers, Janet Anthony and Kent

Status: The legal hotline served 3,379 callers from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009.
FLS continues to identify statewide and regional issues and is working with FCADV and local
legal service programs to address these issues. During the reporting period FLS provided
support to Gulf Coast Legal Services, Inc., in Pinellas County by handling an appeal of a dating
violence injunction. The Answer Brief has been filed, and we await a ruling from the court.

The hotline also provided research assistance to a legal aid office in Pasco County on the issue of
standing as it related to an adoptive mother’s right to file for an injunction against her son. In
that particular case, the adoptive mother sought a domestic violence injunction against her
championship wrestling son who brutally attacked her in their family home. The judge refused
to grant an injunction stating that to do so would allow the adoptive mother to abandon her
parental responsibilities. In a Motion to Reconsider, the primary argument in support of the
injunction is centered on the definition of “family” pursuant to F.S. 741.39(1)(a) which clearly
allows any “household member” living “as if a family” the right to file for a domestic violence
injunction against another family member. The Motion for Reconsideration has been filed and
we are awaiting the judge’s decision.

2.   Statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team

Summary: In October of 2009, The Attorney General organized a Statewide Domestic
Violence Fatality Review Team. The mission of the team is to review domestic violence
homicide cases and conduct thorough analysis of local fatality review team data to ascertain
steps needed to reduce domestic violence fatalities. FLS is a member of the Statewide
Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team.

FLS Advocate:       Suzanne Estrella

Status: A two day training for the Statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team is
scheduled for January 2010.


1. FLS sponsored a Family Law Training in January of 2009. The training was attended by
attorneys in legal aid offices throughout the state. The agenda covered filing fee issues for
indigent clients, parenting plans, and child support issues. A scenario involving a client with
domestic violence issues was used throughout the program for discussion and to allow
participants to apply the information presented to a particular set of facts. A meeting of the
Family Law Umbrella Group was also held during the training event.

   2. In June of 2009, Ann Perko presented a Webinar on the restoration of the filing fee
      waiver for indigents achieved in the new legislation. Over 100 participants attended the
   3. Legislative Webinar training was held on October 22, 2009. Ann Perko presented on
      family issues that FLS is monitoring for the 2010 session.
   4. FLS is in the process of planning a Family Law training for 2010. A design team has
      been formed and will be meeting in January 2010.


!      !       !      !


1. Capitated Therapies for Children
Number affected: Hundreds of Medicaid eligible children and youth
Summary: In an effort to control costs, the Legislature mandated that AHCA provide utilization
management of children’s Medicaid therapies, which include: speech, physical and occupational
therapy. AHCA responded by moving to capitate these services for all children on MediPass
(children in HMOs would continue to receive therapy services through their HMO.) AHCA
executed contracts with two HMOs who, in turn, executed contracts with utilization reviewers.
The utilization reviewer for the southern part of the state is Therapy Review Systems (TRS), and
implementation of the contracts was scheduled to begin in May 2009.
Prior to implementation, FLS was contacted by several speech therapists who stated that TRS (as
a subcontractor of Medicaid HMO Amerigroup) was denying virtually all requests for children’s
speech therapy services. FLS accepted one case for a fair hearing and conducted extensive
discovery on TRS. Among other things, discovery showed that TRS is relying on an improperly
restrictive medical necessity standard in denying the child’s prescribed therapy. The TRS
depositions highlighted several other systemic problems including a failure to provide the
requisite notice and appeal rights required by federal law. The AHCA deposition revealed the
Agency was doing its own case review to determine if services were improperly denied by
FLS Advocates: Miriam Harmatz and Anne Swerlick
Status: Throughout the case FLS thoroughly documented TRS’ violations of Medicaid law in
writing to AHCA, and the Agency ultimately decided not to proceed with statewide
implementation of the capitated therapy program.
On April 30, 2009 FLS requested that AHCA provide public records regarding the TRS case
review. Those records revealed that virtually all of the TRS denials were improper. Public
records requests were also sent to TRS seeking various records relating to their coverage of
speech therapy services for children/youth on Medicaid. It is anticipated that these records, if
they were produced, would show: 1) that TRS is spending far less than 80 % of the state dollars

they receive for actual services to beneficiaries; 2) the criteria used by TRS for coverage of the
various speech disorders are overly restrictive.
FLS is working with the National Health Law Program to find a pro bono firm to assist in a
public records lawsuit against TRS on behalf of Florida Community Health Action Information
Network (CHAIN).
2. Interpreter Services for Medical Care (Region 2)

Number affected:      Over 1 million Floridians who are deaf or hard of hearing

Summary: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) physicians are required to provide
qualified interpreter services to patients who are deaf if it is necessary for “effective
communication.” FLS was contacted by Sharon Caserta, an attorney with JALA who specializes
in serving deaf and hard of hearing clients. She was receiving a number of complaints from
clients unable to obtain interpreter services from their physicians. The complainants included
Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. Ms. Caserta requested FLS to assist her in obtaining a
systemic “administrative” solution, if possible instead of litigation.

FLS Advocate: Anne Swerlick
Other Advocates: Sharon Caserta, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid

Status: FLS provided research and technical assistance to Ms. Caserta on administrative
advocacy strategies relating to both the Medicaid and Medicare programs. This has included
providing information on Medicaid HMO grievance processes, reviewing and making
suggestions on correspondence with AHCA officials and soliciting recommendations from our
national partners. In response to Ms. Caserta’s correspondence with AHCA on this issue, in
January 2010, AHCA convened a meeting with JALA, FLS and representatives of the deaf
community. At that meeting AHCA officials agreed to designate a “point person” in each of their
13 area Medicaid offices who deaf Medicaid recipients can contact when they have problems
obtaining interpreter services for medical care. AHCA has also agreed to participate in a meeting
with the Florida Association of Health Plans which FLS is currently trying to coordinate.

3.   Medical Care Advisory Committee

Number affected: Over 2 million current and future Medicaid recipients

Summary: Federal Medicaid law requires each state Medicaid program to have a Medical Care
Advisory Committee (MCAC), comprised in part of Medicaid recipients and/or their
representatives. Until recently, Florida’s MCAC had not met since 2000 and historically it has
had little or no consumer representation.

FLS Advocates: Amy Guinan

Status: During the fall of 2007, AHCA’s Secretary reinstated the MCAC and appointed new
committee members, including an FLS attorney and several consumer representatives nominated

by FLS. The MCAC meets quarterly in Tallahassee. In addition to participating in every
meeting and providing input and advice on issues that impact consumers, FLS continues to
monitor Florida’s compliance with the laws relating to the MCAC. As a member of the
MCAC, FLS has worked to ensure that the MCAC is treated as an advisory committee subject to
the Florida Sunshine Laws. In November 2009, after nearly a year and a half of discussion and
debate, the MCAC members approved bylaws for the MCAC. At the urging of FLS, the
bylaws required an increase in the number of consumer representatives on the MCAC. The
Bylaws also provided that all MCAC meetings are subject to the Florida Sunshine Laws. In
addition, to ensure that the MCAC was included in discussions regarding Medicaid Reform and
the Medical Home Pilot Project, FLS requested the creation, and currently serves as chair, of a
MCAC fact-finding subcommittee to identify issues relating to Medicaid Reform and the
Medicaid Home concept that the MCAC members should review.

4.   Florida’s Low Income Pool Program

Number affected: Approximately 3.6 million uninsured Floridians

Summary: Florida’s federally authorized Low Income Pool Program (LIP), which was approved
under Florida’s Medicaid Reform Waiver, is a primary funding source for Medicaid participating
hospitals and allows most hospitals in Florida to receive additional payments to cover the cost of
providing services to Medicaid, underinsured, and uninsured individuals. According to the
Special Terms and Conditions of the Florida Medicaid Reform Waiver, the Florida LIP program
was “established to ensure continued government support for the provision of health care
services to Medicaid, underinsured, and uninsured populations.” The LIP pool consists of a
capped annual allotment of $1 billion total computable for each year of the 5-year Florida
Medicaid Reform demonstration period. Recommendations on the financing of the LIP and the
distribution of its funds are made each year by the Low Income Pool Council which was created
by statute for that purpose. During the initial year of LIP (State Fiscal Year 2006-2007) the
number of Medicaid, uninsured, and underinsured individuals served by hospitals receiving LIP
payments dropped from 22,900 the previous year to 22,500. On the other hand, the number of
Medicaid, uninsured, and underinsured individuals served by non-hospital providers increased
during the initial year of LIP to 18,100 from 16, 900 the previous year.

FLS Advocates:      Amy Guinan

Status: FLS, along with a team of advocacy organizations including FL CHAIN and
ACORN, is participating in The Hospital Accountability Project, a Community Catalyst project
designed to improve hospital practices so that uninsured and underinsured people are neither
weighted down by medical debt nor dissuaded from seeking health care services. FLS’s role
in the Hospital Accountability Project is to monitor and analyze Florida’s Low Income Pool
Program and its funds distribution process. In an effort to ensure that Florida’s LIP program
places priority on providing health care services and to ensure that uninsured Floridians have a
voice in the funding methodology recommendation process, FLS is working to identify and
develop roles for advocates in the LIP program. In addition to monitoring the LIP Council

meetings and analyzing the LIP funding recommendations and distributions, FLS will continue
to identify and monitor efforts to measure the impact the LIP program has on increasing health
care services to Florida’s uninsured populations. FLS also continues to closely monitor and
research Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration’s negotiations with the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the Medicaid Reform demonstration project
and how the end of the Medicaid Reform demonstration project will impact the Low Income
Pool.      In an effort to educate uninsured Floridians and advocacy organizations on the LIP
program and the benefits it provides, FLS is currently writing a series of briefs on different
aspects of the LIP program that impact access to health care for the uninsured and underinsured.
The first of these briefs, which was completed in October 2009 and disseminated to health care
advocates, legislators and other health policy-makers, provides a basic understanding of
Florida’s hospital Medicaid reimbursement methods and the supplement funding mechanisms
used to compensate hospitals for the unreimbursed costs of serving Medicaid recipients, the
underinsured and uninsured.


1.   Medical Home Taskforce

Number affected:      Over 1 million Florida Medicaid recipients in Medicaid managed care

Summary: Most Florida Medicaid recipients are required to be enrolled in a Medicaid
managed care plan (this includes HMOs). Over the years there have been multiple complaints,
and some criminal indictments relating to Medicaid HMOs not providing the services required
under their contracts with AHCA, problems with plans improperly denying services to patients
and plans spending excessive amounts on administrative cost including high CEO salaries
Also, given the volatility of the Medicaid HMO marketplace, many recipients are forced to
periodically change their plans (and often their doctors) because the plans decide to terminate
their Medicaid contracts in certain parts of the state and/or the plans are bought and sold to other

During the 2009 session, the Legislature directed AHCA in Senate Bill 1986 to create a Medical
Home Taskforce to explore another managed care option called a “medical home” and to provide
a report and recommendations for the 2010 Legislature. In lieu of for-profit HMOs, community
care networks based on the medical home model have been established by local hospitals and
physicians in other states to serve the Medicaid population. For example, this model has been in
effect in North Carolina for 10 years and studies show that the model has improved patient care
and access, as well as saved the state millions of dollars.

FLS Advocates: Anne Swerlick, Miriam Harmatz, Amy Guinan

Status: AHCA appointed FLS to serve on the Medical Home Taskforce as a representative
of Medicaid recipients. The ten member Taskforce also includes representation from physician
organizations, hospitals, Medicaid HMOs, community health centers and AARP. The Taskforce

has heard presentations from Florida state officials, as well as those from Oklahoma, North
Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington. FLS has obtained consumer focused information and
feedback on the medical home concept from our national partners (e.g. National health Law
Program, ) as well as various state organizations (e.g. the Florida Academy of Family Physicians,
the Florida Council on Community Mental Health). This information has been shared with the
Taskforce. FLS participated in all of the Taskforce meetings and provided written comments and
recommendations. The Taskforce’s final report is due to the Legislature February 1, 2010.

2. Medical Loss Ratio Bill
Number affected: Over 2 million current and future Medicaid beneficiaries
Summary: Medical loss ratio ("MLR") is the percentage of state money that Medicaid HMOs
actually spend on health care services compared to the amount spent on administration, salaries,
bonuses, commissions, profits, etc. For example, an 85/15 medical loss ratio (or "MLR") means
that 85% of the funding paid by the state to each Medicaid HMO is actually spent on health care
services for Medicaid recipients enrolled in the plan.
FLS decided to pursue MLR legislation for several reasons. First, it is critical that sick and
impoverished Florida Medicaid recipients receive medically necessary care from their HMOs. If
the HMOs are spending more than 15 % of the state dollars they receive for administrative and
profit related expenses, they are simply not going to have enough money to cover necessary
direct health care services. Second, consumers and taxpayers have a right to know that taxpayer
dollars devoted to Medicaid are actually being spent on health care services –and are not going to
HMO shareholder profits and exorbitant CEO salaries.
FLS Advocates: Dorene Barker, Arthur Rosenberg, Miriam Harmatz and Anne Swerlick
Status: FLS drafted a bill and found sponsors in the House and Senate. House Bill 703 is
sponsored by Representative Elaine Schwartz and its companion in the Senate is sponsored by
Senator Al Lawson.


1. Edmonds et al v. Levine (Regions III & VI)
Case No. 05-21215 CIV-Lenard
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Number affected: 6,000 Medicaid recipients
Summary: Under federal Medicaid law, states are required to cover prescription drugs for
medically accepted indications, which the statute defines as uses approved by the FDA (on label)

or off-label uses that are supported by citation in one of three Congressionally specified
compendia. Plaintiffs successfully challenged AHCA s restrictive coverage policy in a case in a
case of first impression regarding the meaning of medically accepted indications AHCA
appealed to the Eleventh Circuit. See Edmonds et al. v, Levine, 417 F.Supp. 3rd 1323. After the
case was fully briefed and oral argument was scheduled, the Agency decided to withdraw their
appeal. The Agency agreed to pay plaintiffs virtually all of their requested fees for time spent on
the appeal (approximately $37,000 in fees went to FLS and $17,000 to NHELP), but continued
to dispute payment of attorneys’ fees at the trial level.
FLS advocates: Miriam Harmatz
Co-counsel: Shawn Boehringer, Broward Legal Aid, Jennifer Wimberly, Legal Aid Society
Orange County Bar Assoc; Jane Perkins, National Health Law Program; Neil Kodsi, Carlton
Status: On April 15, 2009, the district court issued an order granting Plaintiffs approximately
$280,000 in fees plus costs (the request was for approximately $325,000.) FLS received over
half of the award. The only remaining issue concerned fees for fee counsel, which were not
included in the April order. Plaintiffs filed a motion requesting clarification, and the Court
subsequently awarded fee counsel his requested fee.
2. Smith v. Benson, Sec. of Agency for Health Care Admin. (Region VII)
Case No 09-21543 CIV-Gold
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Number affected: While the case is on behalf of a single Plaintiff, we are requesting declaratory
relief which could impact over 12,000 medically incontinent children/youth on Medicaid and not
in the waiver.
Summary: On June 8, 2009, FLS and LSGMI sued the state Medicaid agency regarding the
state’s refusal to cover diapers for a severely disabled 17 year old. Plaintiff is alleging that the
state refusal violates the federal Medicaid statute and is requesting declaratory and injunctive
relief. The Plaintiff, who suffers from severe mental retardation and cerebral palsy, is completely
incontinent and needs diapers.
FLS advocates: Miriam Harmatz
Other advocates: Monica Vigues-Pitan, Jose Fons, Anna Frusciante, Legal Services of Greater
Status: The Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss was denied. The parties have finished contentious
discovery; Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment has been fully briefed and oral argument is
scheduled for Jan 22, 2010.

1. Shirley Spuhler Health Care Fairness Project
Florida Medicare Part D and Medicaid Prescription Drug Access Helpline

Number affected: Over 2 million Medicaid and Low-Income Medicare beneficiaries

Summary: In September 2005, FLS established a state-wide toll-free Helpline dedicated to
providing assistance to Medicaid recipients facing problems getting Medicaid coverage for
medically necessary prescriptions. In January 2006, the Helpline expanded to provide assistance
to dual eligibles whose Medicaid coverage for prescriptions ended and was shifted to Medicare
Part D.

 In January 2009, the FLS Health Care Fairness Project was re-named and dedicated to the spirit
and memory of Shirley Spuhler, a beacon of light for clients and advocates fighting health care
injustices. The project seeks to expand and enforce the legal rights to care for the most
vulnerable Floridians, including low-income children & families, the elderly and people with

FLS Advocates: Bonnie Koon, Anne Swerlick & Miriam Harmatz

Status:!From July through December, 2009, the Helpline provided counsel and assistance to 273
callers with Medicaid and/or Medicare prescription drug problems. These callers included
Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries as well as social workers, advocates and physician’s and
staff. The Helpline offered advice on their legal rights to appeal a prescription denial as well as
assistance to physician staff in requesting prior authorizations, coverage determinations,
exceptions to step therapy, coverage redeterminations, etc. As a result of the Helpline’s
assistance, most callers were able to get coverage for their denied medications. The Helpline
staff also offered advice to low-income Medicare beneficiaries who were trying to qualify for the
Low Income Subsidy benefit or the Medically Needy Program. During November and December
2009 we participated in outreach events with the Leon County Senior Center.!

Information obtained through the Helpline callers continues to assist FLS on its systemic
advocacy relating to the Medicaid prescription drug program. For example, quarterly, the
Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee makes recommendations to AHCA relating
to its preferred drug list (PDL). In October 2009, FLS wrote to each of the P&T committee
members requesting that they recommend changes to the prior authorization process in order to
assure continuity of care for patients taking certain classes of medications (e.g., anti-psychotics)
and to ensure sufficient transition protections for patients having to switch medication due to
changes in the PDL.

In December 2007 FLS filed an inquiry with the federal government (CMS) as to why the
Florida Medicaid program was not covering progesterone shots for women with high risk
pregnancies. (These shots significantly decrease the chances of recurring preterm deliveries). In
July 2009, the Florida Medicaid program finally responded to CMS stating that they were now
covering these injections after resolving a rebate issue. FLS shared this “news” with the network
of Florida Healthy Start programs as well as the Florida Healthy Babies Coalition.

Through the Helpline, FLS continues to gather information on potential violations of the
Hernandez settlement agreement, Medicaid law relating to prescription drug coverage and
systemic Part D enrollment and coverage problems. This information is used by FLS and other
national organizations such as the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Senior
Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) for policy and legislative advocacy work.
2. Sunshine Project & Medicaid Managed Care Public Records
Number affected: Over 2 million Medicaid and Low-Income Medicare beneficiaries
Summary: Florida heavily relies on managed care organizations (MCOs) to deliver services to
Medicaid beneficiaries. Historically there has been minimal state oversight to determine if
beneficiaries are actually getting medically necessary services and/or if managed care providers
are complying with the terms specified in their state contracts.
FLS Advocates: Miriam Harmatz & Anne Swerlick
Status: Over the past few years FLS has been filing multiple public records requests with the
Medicaid Agency, AHCA, and its contracted managed care organizations (MCOs) and analyzing
their responses. During 2008 FLS joined forces with the Sunshine and Accountability Project
which is funded by the Nathan Cummings and Public Welfare Foundation. The project
establishes a partnership between the National Health Law Program and six state-based advocate
partners to collect publicly available Medicaid data. Project participants are determining what
data to collect, evaluating the data, and developing strategies for use of the data to improve
accountability and health access in Medicaid.
FLS has filed public records requests with the Medicaid Agency and multiple MCOs seeking
information that the agency and MCOs should have in their possession and make publicly
available pursuant to federal Medicaid law. FLS also requested data on prescription drug denials
that the plans' pharmacy benefit managers have in their possession but that we have previously
been unable to obtain from the MCOs. With limited exceptions, Florida’s MCOs either refused
to provide the requested records or simply ignored the requests. NHeLP is compiling the various
state responses and drafting a summary report, including policy recommendations and advocacy
3. Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Project

Number affected: 7,000 Medicaid recipients with developmental disabilities

Summary: As a result of 2008 changes in state law, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities
(APD) began to implement a new initiative which moved thousands of its clients into capped
service levels (Tiers 1-3). This resulted in many clients losing, or being at risk of losing, services
essential to keeping them in their homes or community placements instead of an institution. APD
clients have a right to a hearing to challenge their tier assignments. As a result, legal services
programs across the state were beginning to hear from many affected clients and their families.

During the 2008 statewide meeting advocates identified the need to create an “APD Tier”
Taskforce. To support legal services advocates in their efforts to represent these clients, FLS
created an APD Tier listserv. There are currently over 60 members, including pro bono
attorneys, many of whom participate in bi-weekly calls. The listserv allows advocates to share
ideas and strategies for representing APD clients in fair hearings as well as identifying “impact
issues” requiring more systemic legal work. These members have also provided materials for
APD resource files located in library for the Health/Senior and Pro Bono practice areas. This
includes sample hearing pleadings and links to CLE trainings on APD issues.
Also, at the Annual Meeting of The Florida Bar in June 2008 FLS made a proposal and
presentation to the Executive Committee of the Administrative Law Section seeking to create
interest in providing pro bono representation to APD clients facing the loss of services. The
Section formally adopted a pro bono project targeting these clients. The Section and the legal aid
community worked together to provide two training programs on the representation of clients
before the Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). Pro bono opportunities and resource
materials relating to representation of APD clients are advertised on the Florida Pro Bono
website. FLS has been working with the Section to recruit attorneys for the project and Section
members have responded very well.

FLS Advocates: Anne Swerlick, Miriam Harmatz, Cindy Huddleston, Valory Greenfield,
Sheila Meehan ( Pro Bono Opportunities Developer)

Status: APD taskforce members, including both legal services and pro bono attorneys have been
active in multiple forums to challenge their clients’ tier assignments and the process for making
these assignments. This includes representation of clients in individual DOAH hearings, on
multiple appeals in the state DCAs, two rule challenges, and a federal class action lawsuit
brought by Southern Legal Counsel, Inc. FLS staff have provided technical assistance and
support services for taskforce members engaged in these efforts. This has included organizing
and posting resource materials in the Health/Senior library, providing pertinent legal research,
sample pleadings, review and comments on draft pleadings and participation in strategy
discussions. Until the courts resolve the various court challenges to the laws governing this issue,
FLS is not doing any active recruitment from the Administrative Law Section for this project.


1. Medicaid 101 Training- On October 16, 2009 FLS coordinated and sponsored a one day
Medicaid training. Trainers included FLS staff, as well as staff from SLC and JALA. Materials
and a video of the training have been posted on the Florida Advocates website.

2. Health/Senior Umbrella Group Meeting - FLS coordinated a Health/Senior Umbrella
group meeting which included presentations from the Department of Elder Affairs Title III Legal
Services Developer, the Statewide Senior Helpline, and a representative of an Aging Resource
Center. Following the umbrella group meeting, there was a meeting of the Agency for Persons

with Disabilities (APD) Legal Services Taskforce.
3. National Health Law Program Conference- FLS presented at the National Health Law
Program annual conference at a session on public records and Medicaid managed care.




1.   Establishing Assault and Battery on Homeless Persons as Hate Crimes

Number Affected:      Hundreds

Summary: In response to the rash of assaults on homeless persons throughout Florida over the
past couple of years, leading in some cases to death, legislation was introduced in the 2007
Florida legislative session to expand Florida’s hate crimes law to include such attacks.

FLS Advocate:     Arthur Rosenberg, Dorene Barker

Status: In 2007, the Florida House of Representatives passed HB11, sponsored by
Representative Priscilla Taylor, establishing certain assaults on homeless persons as a hate crime.
  Unfortunately, the Senate companion bill, sponsored by Senator Joyner, was not passed. This
legislation was not presented to the legislature in 2008.

Subsequent to the 2008 session, FLS continued its work with Representative Taylor, Florida
Coalition for the Homeless, Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, Miami Coalition for the
Homeless, as well as the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center for
Homelessness and Poverty, both of whom have made this issue, and Florida, a priority.
Representative Taylor agreed to re-file this bill for the 2009 session (HB 909). Senator Chris
Smith was the Senate sponsor (SB 2680). Representative Taylor is from Palm Beach County
and Senator Smith is from Ft. Lauderdale, both areas in which assaults on homeless persons have
been well publicized.

These bills were passed by committees in both houses, but neither reached the floor for a vote.
Representative Porth (Broward) has already filed this bill for the 2010 session and Sen. Ring
(Broward) has filed the bill (S506) in the Senate.

Legislative and policy advocacy

Anti-homeless Ordinances

Number affected: Thousands

Summary: A number of Florida municipalities are enacting ordinances that target and criminalize
behavior that homeless persons engage in out of necessity. FLS continues its work with the
Florida Coalition for the Homeless, local homeless advocates, and the ACLU to assure that
homeless persons' civil rights are protected and that homelessness is not criminalized.

FLS Advocates: Arthur Rosenberg

Status: FLS is working to monitor, address and counteract the efforts of municipalities
throughout Florida who have passed, or are attempting to pass, anti-homeless ordinances that
criminalize and/or limit the activities and freedom of movement of homeless persons.
Anti-panhandling ordinances, zoning, and anti-feeding ordinances are being used and proposed
in municipalities in Florida and throughout the nation in an effort to get homeless persons off the
streets and out of sight. FLS’s effort is to assist local communities and advocates to oppose
or modify proposed ordinances; monitor the impact and implementation of ordinances that have
passed; and explore possible litigation to address unconstitutional ordinances or implementation.
In many instances the settlement reached in Pottinger v. City of Miami is used as a model to
preserve and respect the rights of the homeless within our communities. In addition the state and
local homeless coalitions and advocates, FLS is working with the National Coalition for the
Homeless, and the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty.

                                         HOUSING!          !"



1.   HOPE VI/Demolition/Disposition/Choice Neighborhoods Initiative            (Statewide)

Summary: Proposals to redevelop public housing continue to advance both in Congress and in
the Administration. We have been working with Low Income Families Fighting Together
(LIFT), the National Low Income Housing Coalition and National Peoples Action to provide
input into these various proposals. While new HOPE VI legislation did not pass the Congress
last session, new appropriations continue. In addition, public housing is being lost to
Demolition/Disposition proposals. A new initiative by HUD-Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
is being studied closely. FLS had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Donovan and to press
the need for one replacement, aright of the original residents to return without new screening
criteria, and participation of the residents in the planning and the employment created by the
redevelopment. We are also attempting to provide input into the public housing legislation
being proposed by the House of Representatives Banking Committee regarding proposed public
housing legislation.

FLS Advocates:     Chuck Elsesser, Purvi-Shah

Status: FLS is now monitoring the development of public housing reform legislation that will
impact public housing redevelopment.

2. South Florida Jobs with Justice/Vecinos Unidos re:       Mobile Home Park
Redevelopment Moratorium                                              (Region VII)

Summary: The mobile home owner organizing efforts of the Mobile Home Council and South
Florida Jobs With Justice has resulted in a County-wide moratorium on mobile home park
redevelopment permitting. FLS is representing South Florida Jobs With Justice/Vecinos
Unidos in their efforts to convince the County to change land designations so as to protect the
mobile home parks from redevelopment.

FLS Advocate:     Jose Javier Rodriquez and Chuck Elsesser, Community Justice Project

Co-Counsel: Jamie Ross, 1000 Friends of Florida

Status: The Moratorium has been extended again until October, 2009.      FLS is continuing to

work with County staff to secure increased benefits for the mobile home owners. FLS and
1000 Friends of Florida are reviewing the moratorium and researching possible challenges to any
termination of the moratorium that does not protect mobile home park residents from the closing
of their parks for redevelopment.


1. Reese et Al. V Miami-Dade County Housing Agency, et al.                (Region VII)
Case No. 01-01-3766 Civ-Highsmith
U. S. District Court, Southern District Fla.

Summary: This is a class action on behalf of African American families living in Scott Homes
public housing project and on behalf of African American households on the waiting list
challenging the planned demolition and “Revitalization” of the Scott Homes project as part of a
HOPE VI grant. The action challenges the Housing Authority’s actions as well as U.S. HUD’s
on numerous grounds, including Fair Housing Act violations and violations of the Housing and
Community Development Act.

FLS Advocates: Chuck Elsesser and Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: Plaintiffs lost a motion for summary judgment in October 2009. Plaintiffs decided
not to appeal and the case is terminated. FLS is currently assessing how FLS can be of the most
use to the residents in accessing the benefits of the new development.

2. Hill v Stefan                                                          (Region VI)
Circuit Court – Broward County

Summary: The complaint alleges that client was fraudulently induced to sign a deed by a
mortgage loan broker Stefan when she was attempting to secure a loan on her property. The
new owner secured a mortgage and then disappeared. Our client filed Counterclaim, cross
complaint and Third Party complaint in the mortgage foreclosure action.

FLS Advocate: Churk Elsesser, Community Justice Project
Co-Counsel: Shawn Boehringer (LASBC)

Status: The case has been resolved with respect to lender. The client has refinanced her
home and FLS is undertaking final discovery before proceeding to trial with respect to mortgage
loan broker.

3. POWER U Center for Social Change, et al. V. City of Miami, et al.              (Region VII)
Circuit Court 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami Dade County, Appellate Department

Summary: FLS represented POWER U, a community organization, organizing against
gentrification in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, with respect to their opposition to a

Major Use Special Permit for a major development proposed on publicly owned land. The City
Commission issued the permit. FLS filed a Writ of Certiorari appealing the City’s decision as
violative of due process and because the City failed to proceed according to law. FLS was
successful and the City held another hearing and again issued the Major Use Special Permit
(MUSP). FLS filed a Writ of Certiorari and while it was pending the property reverted to the
County. The City of Miami then sued the County to obtain the property.

FLS Advocate:     Chuck Elsesser, Community Justice Project

Status: Writ of Certiorari is in abeyance pending the resolution of the City v County lawsuit.
FLS also filed a Complaint in Circuit Court challenging the issuance of the MUSP as violative of
the Comprehensive Plan

4.   Young v. Miami Dade Housing Agency

Summary: Ms. Young is a relocate from Scott Homes who was placed in a home ownership
unit. Her payments for her mortgage, taxes and insurance greatly exceed 30% of her income.
FLS initiated an appeal regarding her relocation benefits to insure that she does not pay more
than 30% of her income in rent.

FLS and Legal Services of greater Miami filed an appeal of the relocation benefit determination
and were successful in the administrative hearing but the Housing Authority director reversed the
decision. FLS and LSGMI filed a Writ of Certiorari. The Circuit Court granted the Writ and
remanded the case back to the County. The County issued a new decision which continued to
deny benefits.

FLS Advocate:     Chuck Elsesser, Community Justice Project

Co-Counsel: Jeff Hearne, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.

Status: FLS filed an appeal with U.S. HUD and is awaiting the processing of the appeal.

5. Deutsche Bank v. Jones, Mixon et al. (Circuit Court – Broward County)
Case No. 06-013259

Summary: The Cross-Complaint and Third Party complaint in this mortgage foreclosure case
allege that the client was fraudulently induced to sign a deed with a lease and option to
repurchase agreement. The lease and option to purchase is a disguised mortgage which violates
TILA and related statutes.

FLS Advocate:     Chuck Elsesser, Community Justice Project

Co-Counsel: Shawn Boehringer (LASBC)

Status: The foreclosure action is resolved and are attempting to determine if FLS and LASBC

can pursue the party who originally defrauded the clients.

6. Liberty City Tenants’ Assoc. v. Liberty City Apartments
Circuit Court Miami Dade County

Summary: Action challenging conditions, and condo conversion in an apartment building on
behalf of tenants, and tenant organization.

FLS Advocates: Chuck Elsesser and Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Lead-Counsel: Sharzhad Emami and Jeff Hearne, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.

Status: This case was settled on behalf of each individual client.    Settlements ranged from
$1000 to $6000 a person.

7. Coronado et al. V. Miami Dade County                                    (Region VII)
Case No. 08-22019-ICV-Ungaro

Summary: The Section 8 program administered by Miami Dade Housing Agency (MDHA)
has been deteriorating for some time. Since the County program was put into receivership by
U.S. HUD service has deteriorated even further. Legal Services of Greater Miami has seen
several families there were terminated without notice or hearing due to failure to follow up on
tenant requests for Change of Dwelling, etc. FLS is co-counseling with LSGMI in an action to
require MDHA to restore benefits to three families and for damages.

FLS Advocates: Chuck Elsesser, Community Justice Project

Lead Counsel: Jeff Hearne, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.

Status: This action was resolved for significant changes to the County’s Section 8 program as
well as $20,000 in damages for each of the individual plaintiffs. FLS and LSGMI are
monitoring the implementation of the judgment.

8. Bell. Et. Al vs. Art Mar Investments et. Al                       (Region VII)
Case No. 08-7971 CC 05

Summary: A prohibited practice damages action for lack of water service brought on behalf
of ten low-income tenants living in a dilapidated building in Liberty City.

FLS Advocate:     Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project (CJP)

Status: Temporary Injunction granted and Defendant ordered to return water service to the
property or face ten (10) days incarceration in the County jail. Water service was temporarily
restored to the property. A new owner was found for the property and tenants moved off-site
and were given rehousing assistance from Habitat for Humanity. CJP working is to ensure all

residents can return to property once it rehabbed. In addition, CJP is pursuing policy advocacy
with the County to find a long-term solution to the problem of utility cut-offs in multi-family

9 – 15 Overtown 8th Street Tenant Union Eviction Defense

Del Plata LLC v. Knowles             Case No. 08-17191-CC-05
Del Plata LLC v. Blain               Case No. 08-18715-CC-05
Del Plata LLC v. Norris              Case No. 08-18175-CC-05
Del Plata LLC v. Knowles II          Case No. 09-01909-CC-05
Del Plata LLC v. Blain II            Case No. 09-01910-CC-05
Del Plata LLC v. Sneed               Case No. 09-1469-CC-05
Del Plata LLC v. Powell              Case No. 09-1470-CC-05

Summary: FLS has been working with the Power U Center for Social Change as they organize
a tenant union to fight an epidemic of severe conditions problems in private-rental multi-family
apartments in Overtown. FLS has provided eviction defense to tenant union leaders who have
been targeted by the landlord for speaking out about the poor conditions in their apartments.

FLS Advocate:      Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: Sewage system was fixed permanently. Other major repairs made to the interior and
exterior of the property.Our five clients withheld rent successfully for over one year. In
addition, our clients successfully defeated and dismissed multiple evictions in court. We filed
affirmative litigation against landlord for substandard conditions at the property/prohibited
practices. The dispute (both pending evictions and the affirmative litigation) were settled for
sizable amounts on behalf of each client

16 – 17.    Tenants in Foreclosure – Eviction Defense                     (Region VII)

Mohammed Spahi v. Marie Toussaint           Case No. 09-04597-CC-05
Mohammed Spahi v. Alexis Francois           Case No. 09-04596-CC-05

Summary: FLS has been providing eviction defense to low-income tenants living in private
rental properties with severe condition problems that are under foreclosure and representing them
regarding an illegal termination of utilities.

FLS Advocate:      Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: Answers, Motions to Determine Rent, Motions to Dismiss, and Counterclaims have
been filed. Cases moot because Plaintiff lost the property to the mortgagor, US Bank National
Association, through a foreclosure.

18-20.     Tenants in Foreclosure – Eviction Defense                              (Region VII)

Gonzalez v. Figureoa          Case No. 09-11093-CC-05
Gonzalez v. Figueroa                Case No. 09-16699-CC-05
Gonzalez v. Figueroa                Case No. 10-2419-CC-05

Summary: Serious of three evictions filed against low-income tenant living in a foreclosed
rental property with severe condition problems.

FLS Advocate:     Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

First Eviction: Answers, Motions to Determine Rent, Motions to Dismiss filed. Motion to
Dismiss granted. Eviction dismissed. Motion for Attorney’s Fees pending.
Second Eviction: Answers, Motions to Determine Rent, Motions to Dismiss filed. Motion to
Abate until Attorneys Fees Paid in Previous Action granted. Action abated.
Third eviction: Answers, Motions to Determine Rent, Motions to Dismiss filed. Motion to
Dismiss granted. Eviction dismissed. Motion for Attorney’s Fees pending.

21-22.   Tenants in Foreclosure – Eviction Defense                                (Region VII)

DBS Investments V. Beazer
Justin Rolle V. Iris Beazer

Summary: Eviction defense to low-income tenant living in a foreclosed rental property.

FLS Advocate:     Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: Answers, Motions to Determine Rent, Motions to Dismiss filed in DBS Investments.
Motion to Dismiss granted and eviction dismissed. Motion for Attorneys Fees pending.
Landlord filed a second eviction. Answers, Motions to Determine Rent, Motions to Dismiss
filed again. Case settled favorably on behalf of client. Evictions dismissed.

23.   Tenants in Foreclosure – Prohibited Practices                        (Region VII)

Francois & Toussaint v. U.S. Bank National Association             Case No.10-03217 CC05

Summary: U.S. bank became new owner of property in foreclosure and failed to keep the
utilities on and attempted to illegally evict clients in violation of the protecting Tenants at
Foreclosure Act. Brought a prohibited practices and damages action for lack of water service

FLS Advocate:     Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: Utilities successfully restored and Motion for a Writ of Possession defeated in
foreclosure case. Court order obtained in foreclosure case requiring the bank to comply with
PTFA prior to obtaining a writ of possession. Action filed for substandard

conditions/prohibited practices.   Case settled. Confidential settlement agreement entered into by
each client. Case dismissed.

24.   Tenants in Foreclosure – Prohibited Practices                         (Region VII)

Figueroa and Smiley v. Gonzalez       Case No. 09-08972-CC-05

Summary: A prohibited practices damages action for lack of water service has been brought
on behalf of low-income tenants living in foreclosed property.

FLS Advocate:     Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: The action has been filed and served. A temporary Injunction was granted and
Defendant was ordered to return water service to the property. The defendant violated the
temporary Injunction. A motion for Order to show Cause filed and granted. Prior to the
hearing on the Order to Show Cause, water service was restored to the property.

26. Miami Dade County v. Williams                                   (Region VII)
Case No. 09-6374-CC-05

Summary: A public housing tenant is threatened with eviction due to alleged criminal conduct
of tenant’s daughter. CJP represents the daughter while LSGMI represent the mother.

FLS Advocate:     Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss granted. Case dismissed.


1. Miami Workers Center – Anti-Slumlord Campaigns and Tenant Union Defense
County Court Miami-Dade County                                (Region VII)

Summary: FLS has been working extensively with the Miami Workers Center as they
organize tenant unions to fight the slumlord epidemic in Liberty City and Wynwood.

FLS Advocates: Purvi Shah and Charles Elsesser, Community Justice Project
LSGMI Advocates: Sharzhad Emami and Jeff Hearne, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.

Status: FLS and Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., are supporting MWC’s organizing
efforts by continuing to provide legal support to the tenant unions that have formed thus far.

2. South Florida Jobs with Justice/Vecinos Unidos re Landlord-Tenant Matters in
Low-Income Mobile Home Parks (Miami, FL)                          (Region VII)

Summary: FLS supports the work of the Mobile Home Council, formed by South Florida
Jobs with Justice and Vecinos Unidos, uniting the residents of low-income mobile home parts
within Miami-Dade County who have formed homeowners’ associations. FLS provides
assistance to the Mobile Home Council, and representation to some mobile home owners’
associations, in addressing a variety of landlord-tenant issues of park-wide significance including
excessive rental increase and substandard conditions as well as in addressing corporate matters.

FLS Advocates: Jose Javier Rodriguez and Chuck Elsesser, Community Justice Project
Other Advocates: Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.

Status: FLS represents the homeowners’ associations in several low-income mobile home
parks in pursuing park-wide matters related to excessive rental amounts and substandard
conditions, matters which collectively will affect nearly 400 families. In addition, FLS has
successfully represented residents of one of those mobile home parks, which was threatened with
water termination for the park owner’s failure to pay the water bill, and succeeded in averting the
termination of water to more than 100 families.

3.   Eviction Study                                                         (Region VII)

Summary: On an average day over 300 evictions are filed in Miami-Dade County. Many of
those involved in the revolving door of evictions are low-income families living in private rental
housing, a group that receives little to no support from legal service providers. As such, the
Community Justice Project along with Right to the City Miami and RISEUP is authoring a study
on evictions in Miami-Dade County courts to expose the plight of low-income tenants under
eviction in private rental housing. FLS knows from its caseload and from community
anecdotes that low-income tenants in Miami are slung rapidly through an eviction process that
favors landlords and offers little due process, much less justice, for low-income tenants. FLS is
conducting detailed investigation into the courts to document and analyze the trajectory of
private rental housing eviction cases and to offer policy solutions.

CJP/FLS Advocates:       Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project

Status: This study is in the data collection phase.

4.   River Park Homeowners Association re Park Owner in Foreclosure (Region VII)

Summary: FLS is assisting the mobile homeowners in a very low-income mobile home park
in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami in the midst of a foreclosure action involving the park
owner, 2260 Northwest 27th Avenue, L.L.C. The assistance involves not only advocacy related
to landlord-tenant matters but, in collaboration with the Movile Home Council and South Florida
Jobs with Justice, also involves supporting the efforts of homeowners to purchase their park.

CJP/FLS Advocates:       Jose Javier Rodriguez, Purvi Shah and Chuck Elsesser, Community
Justice Project

Status: FLS is assisting in investigation, negotiation and mobile homeowner education.

5. Mobile Home Council re Formation of Mobile Homeowner Associations and Rights to
Purchase Parks                                         (Region VII)

Number Affected:      Hundreds of families

Summary: FLS is assisting the Mobile Home Council and representing a number of mobile
homeowner associations in low-income mobile home parks in Miami-Dade with transactional
matters related to their proper formation and to prepare and record Notices of Right to Purchase
Mobile Home Park. This process ensures that homeowners rights, under the Florida Mobile
Home Act and protected and that their homeowners association has the right of first refusal when
the park they live in is put up for sale.

CJP/FLS Advocates: Jose Javier Rodriguez, Community Justice Project
Other Advocates: Pro Bono counsel

Status: FLS had represented four mobile homeowners associations from formation to the
recording of the first refusal notices and has assisted many more at varius stages of the formation

7.   Tenants in Foreclosure, Know-Your-Rights Community Legal Education

Summary: FLS and LSGMI are leading know-your-rights workshops across Miami-Dade
County to raise awareness about the rights of tenants in foreclosed properties.

CJP/FLS Advocates: Purvi Shah, Community Justice Project
LSGMI Advocates: Jeffery Hearne and Shahrzad Emami

Status: CJP has created visual materials and a know-your-rights handbook for distribution.
CJP and LSGMI collaborated on a workshop outline and co-led the first workshop. Further
outreach plans are being developed.

8.   Tenants in Foreclosed Properties

Number Affected: Thousands

Summary: Federal legislation was enacted to protect tenants in residential properties
undergoing foreclosure. Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act was effective May 20, 2009.
It protects tenants from immediate eviction from foreclosed properties. Since the law overlays
state law for foreclosures and evictions, the federal language is subject to interpretation. The
Housing Umbrella Group of Florida Legal Services, Inc. prepared a letter memo for all state
court judges, court administrators, court clerks and sheriffs explaining the correct interpretation
of the federal language as it applies to Florida tenancies and foreclosures in an effort to create a

uniform interpretation in Florida.

FLS Advocates: Jennifer Newton, Alice Vickers, Jo Shaw
Partners (Lead): Jeffrey Hearne, LSGMI; Deborah Rivera, TRLS; and the Housing Umbrella

Status: FLS staff are compiling the contact list for sending the letter memo.   We anticipate
follow-up contact from the judges.

9.   Mobile Home Council re Police Department Policies                            (Region VII)

Number Affected:      Hundreds of families

Summary: FLS is assisting the Mobile Home Council to negotiating with police departments
in South Florida in addressing a variety of policies maintained by police which negatively impact
the safety and civil rights of mobile home park residents.

CJP/FLS Advocates:       Jose Javier Rodriguez, Community Justice Project

                     MIGRANT FARMWORKER


1.   Agricultural Guest Worker Legislation

Number of Farmworkers Affected:       300,000 (statewide)

Summary: On behalf of its client, the United Farm Workers union, the Migrant Farmworker
Justice Program (MFJP) assisted in drafting the Agricultural Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and
Security Act (AgJOBS). AgJOBS would provide for the legalization of many undocumented
farmworkers and make major revisions in the existing H-2A agricultural guest worker program.
AgJOBS is a compromise bill resulting from years of negotiations between the UFW and major
agribusiness employer organizations. It has the support of almost all of the nation’s
farmworker unions and advocacy groups, as well as the principal organizations of agricultural
employers. AgJOBS has been introduced in the past three sessions of Congress and have drawn
wide support from Congressmen in both parties. Unfortunately procedural maneuvers have
thus far prevented AgJOBS from being adopted, either as free-standing legislation or as an
amendment to other immigration-related bills.

FLS Advocate:    Rob Williams

Status: On May 14, 2009, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California reintroduced AgJOBS
(S1038), with a companion bill filed in the House of Representatives (HR2414). Efforts are
being made to ensure that the principles of AgJOBS are incorporated into any comprehensive
immigration reform package presented to Congress.


1. Tenorio v. South East Personnal Leasing, Inc.                        (Region IV)
Case No. 09-005793DEJ
Office of Judges of Compensation Claims

Number of Farmworkers Affected: 1 (Hillsborough County)

Summary: The claimant was injured when his eye was struck by a citrus tree branch in
January, 2009. The employee has denied the claim, arguing that the claimant committed fraud
by including an invalid Social Security number on a medical release he signed at the request of
the insurer. Florida courts have repeatedly held that injured workers are entitled to worker’s
compensation benefits, regardless of their immigration status, even if the worker presented an
invalid Social Security number when applying for work. Insurers are seeking to carve out an
exception to these holdings for instances in which workers provide invalid Social Security
numbers on administrative documents filed in conjunction with their worker’s compensation
claims, contending that such actions constitute an effort to obtain benefits through fraud.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell, Sol Couto, Raul Barrera and Manuel Avalos

Status: The matter was settled, with the claimant receiving the full amount of worker’s
compensation benefits due to him.


1. North Carolina Growers Association, Inc., et al. v. Solis, et al.
Case No. 09-1878
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         150,000 (nationwide)

Summary: After taking office, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis proposed suspending for nine
months regulations adopted in the final days of the Bush Administration which would have
substantially altered the temporary agricultural guest worker program (“H-2A program”).
Among other things, the Bush regulations lowered the guaranteed wage due most of the 150,000
farmworkers employed by growers using guestworkers between $1.00 and $2.00 per hour.
Secretary of Solis’ suspension would have restored the wage rates to their earlier levels. A
group of 17 agricultural entities, including three Florida growers, Florida Citrus Mutual and the
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, brought suit under the Administrative Procedure Act to
block Secretary Solis’ actions.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell, Daniela Dwyer, Manuel Avalos, Raul Barrera
Co-counsel: Robert J. Willis, Raleigh, North Carolina

Status: The United Farm Workers union and 18 farmworkers employed in Florida (5 U.S.
workers and 13 H-2A workers) moved to intervene in the case.        Before the farmworkers’
intervention motion was adjudicated, the district court granted the growers’ request for a
preliminary injunction, and blocked the Secretary of Labor’s action. 644 F.Supp.2d 664
(M.D.N.C. 2009). The district court did not require the growers to provide any security for the
millions of dollars in wages the farmworkers stood to lose as a result of the preliminary

injunction. The farmworkers were finally allowed to intervene five months after the issuance of
the preliminary injunction, 2009 WL 4729113, and had their appeal consolidated with that of the
government. The government and the farmworkers have filed their briefs before the Fourth
Circuit. The farmworkers argue that the district court’s failure to require the growers to provide
security for the disputed wages violated the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(c) and keeps the
case alive, even if the injunction itself becomes moot because of the issuance of new regulations
by the Department of Labor.

2. United Farm Workers, et al.v. Solis                                     (Statewide)
Case No. 09-00062-RMU
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         300,000 (statewide)

Summary: Farmworker unions and individual farmworkers (including several from Florida)
brought suit challenging regulations issued in December, 2008 which dramatically altered the
temporary foreign worker program (“the H-2A program”). The regulations generally lowered
wages and reduced benefits of those farmworkers hired by employers seeking to use agricultural
guest workers. In addition, the regulations eliminated the current reduced transportation
benefits due farmworkers employed by employers participating in the H-2A program. The
regulations replaced the labor certification provisions with a self-attestation procedure and
remove state workforce agencies from any substantive role in the approval of H-2A applications.
  The regulations also curtail provisions designed to ensure that U.S. workers receive priority in
hiring for these jobs. The preamble to the regulations stated the Labor Department’s
disagreement with the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Arriaga v. Florida-Pacific Farms, LLC, 305
F.3d 1228 (11th Cir. 2002), a case brought by FLS.

FLS Advocate: Rob Williams
Co-Counsel: Wilmer Hale, Washington, D.C. (pro bono); Bruce Goldstein and Virginia Ruiz of
Farmworker Justice, Washington, D.C., Marcos Camacho, Bakersfield, California

Status: The district court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction on January
15, 2009, finding that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate irreparable harm from the
implementation of the regulations. See 593 F.Supp.2d 166 (D.D.C. 2009). In June, 2009, the
farmworkers moved for summary judgment. The summary judgment motion has been fully
brief and awaits the district court’s decision. In the interim, the Department of Labor
announced the suspension of challenged regulations effective June 29, 1009, but a federal court
in North Carolina enjoined the suspension. See North Carolina Growers Association v. Solis,
644 F.Supp.2d 664 (M.D.N.C. 2009). As a result, the terms of the December, 2008
regulations have governed the Florida H-2A certifications is action on June 29, 2009, leaving the
challenged December 2008 regulations in place.

3. Renteria-Marin, et al. v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc., et al.                 (Region II)
Perez-Alvino, et al. v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.

Case No. 3:01-cv-1392-HLA-MMH
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         2400 (Hamilton County)

Summary: Consolidated class action suits by 19 migrant workers against the nation’s largest
producer of grape tomatoes arising out of the 2001 and 2002 harvests near Jennings, Florida.
Hundreds of the company’s workers were housed in overcrowded motel rooms, many without
beds. None of the workers were provided with access to cooking or food storage facilities,
forcing the workers to purchase their meals from restaurants or itinerant taco wagons. The
workers were each charged $25 weekly for these accommodations. The defendants contended
that because the workers were housed in motels, the AWPA’s housing provisions are

FLS Advocates: Gregg Schell, Raul Barrera and Manuel Avalos

Status: On August 8, 2008, the Eleventh Circuit reversed much of the district court’s decision
in favor of the farmworker plaintiffs. 537 F.3d 1321 (11th Cir. 2008). The district court had
concluded that the extensive involvement by the grower’s crewleaders in the administration and
management of the motels rendered them liable for ensuring that the living conditions in the
motel units met migrant labor housing standards and awarded the plaintiffs $500,000 in
damages. 488 F.Supp2d 1197 (M.D. Fla.2007). The appeals court left intact the district
court’s ruling that farmworkers who procure housing facilities for their workers are required to
post a written statement of the terms and conditions of occupancy.

Upon remand, the district court awarded $210,000 and costs to the plaintiff class. These claims
are expected to be resolved in January, 2010 as part of a comprehensive settlement of all of the
pending Ag-Mart litigation.

4. Morales-Cervantes v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.                             (Region II)
Case No. 3:05-cv-1275-J-25HTS
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

Vasquez v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.
Case No. 3:07-cv-119-J-25TEM
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         5000 (Hamilton County)

Summary: Challenges to the employer’s continued practice of housing its migrant workforce
for its north Florida harvest in substandard motel units during the 2003, 2004 and 2005
(Morales-Cervantes) and 2006 (Vasquez) growing seasons. As in the Renteria-Marin and
Perez-Alvino cases, the employer argues that motel accommodations are exempt from the
AWPA’s housing provisions.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell, Raul Barrera and Manuel Avalos

Status: The district court consolidated the two cases for discovery and trial purposes. Shortly
thereafter, the district court stayed the consolidated actions, pending the Eleventh Circuit’s
decision in the Renteria-Marin v. Ag-Mart litigation. With the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling in
Renteria-Marin and the disposition of that case on remand, the Court lifted the stay in the
consolidated cases. These claims are expected to be resolved on a class-wide basis in January,
2010 as part of a comprehensive settlement of all of the pending Ag-Mart litigation.

5. Lennon v. Osceola Farms Co.                                             (Region V)
Case No. 06-SC016043
Palm Beach County Court, Small Claims Division

Achord v. Osceola Farms Co.
Case No. 06-SC016044
Palm Beach County Court, Small Claims Division
Case No. 4D09-1906 (4th Circuit Court of Appeal)

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         1500 (Palm Beach County)

Summary: West Indian cane cutters admitted under the H-2A program challenge the payment
practices of their employer during the sugar cane harvests between October, 1987 and March,
1993. The workers contend that Osceola failed to pay them the adverse effect wage rate for
their work and systematically falsified payroll records to conceal the underpayments. The
workers also argue that the terms of their employment contracts required Osceola to pay a much
higher piece-rate than actually offered.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell
Co-Counsel: David L. Gorman, North Palm Beach, James K. Green, West Palm Beach

Status: After a class action brought in state court was decertified in June, 2005, a total of 1048
cane cutters refilled the class claims in federal court, invoking federal jurisdiction under the
newly-enacted Class Action Fairness Act as well as general federal question jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. s 1331. In August, 2006, the district court dismissed the case for lack of federal court
jurisdiction. Over 1500 former cane cutters re-filed their claims before the county court. The
Lennon case involves a single plaintiff, with the remaining 1500 cane cutters presenting their
claims in Achord. Because of the relatively small size of the individual claims, the companion
cases have been assigned to the small claims division. The trial court dismissed the claims of
1400 plaintiffs who were not Florida residents for their failure to post the $100 per person costs
bond required of non-resident plaintiffs by Fla. Stat s57.011. The farmworkers appealed the
ruling, contending that the nonresident cost bond statute violates the access to courts provisions
of the Florida Constitution. By a 2-1 margin, a panel of circuit court judges upheld the trial
court’s dismissal of the nonresident plaintiffs for failure to post the $100 costs bond. The
farmworkers have sought certiorari review in the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The can
cutters’ certiorari petition was supported by three amicus briefs – one from a group of labor,

religious, immigrant rights and farmworker support groups, another from a group of
constitutional law scholars and a third from the Florida ACLU. The matter is set for oral
argument before a Fourth Circuit panel in February, 2010.

The trial court denied Osceola’s summary judgment motion to limit the evidence in the case to
claims regarding the computation of the piece-rate wage. The court held that the farmworkers
would be allowed to press their claims regarding underpayment of wages due to Osceola’s
fraudulent record keeping practices. The circuit court denied Osceola’s motion seeking
interlocutory review of this order by certiorari.

Discovery has been largely completed in the Lennon case, with trial expected before in the next
few months.

6. Mesa, et al. v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.                                   (Region V)
Case No. 2:07-cv-47-Ft.M-34DNF
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected: 6000 (Collier, Hillsborough and Hamilton Counties)

Summary: Class action by farmworkers employed on the defendant’s Florida operations
during the 2005-06 grape tomato harvest. The workers allege that they were systematically
underpaid for their work by the defendant’s practice of not compensating them for time spent
waiting at the jobsite for the dew to dry on the tomato crop prior to beginning picking.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Manuel Avalos

Status: The district court certified a class of an estimated 6300 migrant farmworkers. These
claims are expected to be resolved in January, 2010 as part of a comprehensive settlement of all
of the pending Ag-Mart litigation.

7. Diaz-Morales, et al. v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.                                  (Region V)
Case No. 2:08-cv-00844-99SPC
U. S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Rojas-Cristobal, et al. v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.                           (Region V)
Case No. 2:09-cv-00386-JES-SPC
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Chavez-Guillermo, et al. v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc.                          (Region V)
Case No. 2:09-cv-00387-UA-SPC
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         4000 (Collier and Hendry Counties)

Summary: Class Action by farmworkers employed on Ag-Mart’s south Florida grape tomato
operations during the 2006-07 (Diaz-Morales), 2007-08 (Rojas-Cristobal) and 2008-09
(Chavez-Guillermo) harvest seasons on Ag-Mart’s southwest Florida farm near Immokalee.
The workers claim that Ag-Mart manipulated the use of its electronic timekeeping system to
avoid compensating the farmworkers for the time they spent waiting at the beginning of the day
and during inclement weather for the dew to dry on the tomatoes before beginning to pick.
Although the workers arrived at the farm around 7:30 A.M., they were not clocked in until
picking actually began, which often was several hours later.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Manuel Avalos

Status: These claims are expected to be resolved in January, 2010 on a classwide basis as part
of a comprehensive settlement of all of the pending Ag-Mart litigation.

8. Venant, et al. v. Torrese, et al.                                        (Region VII)
Case No. 08-20046-Civ-O’Sullivan
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

Laurent, et al. v. Torrese, et al.
Case No. 08-22619-Civ-O’Sullivan
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

Lohier, et al. v. Torrese, et al.
Case No. 08-22620-Civ-O’Sullivan
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         2000(Miami-Dade County)

Summary: Seasonal farmworkers brought these three actions (later consolidated) for
widespread violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and
federal and state minimum wage laws during the bean harvests between November, 2005 and
May, 2008 in south Miami-Dade County. The defendant, one of the State’s largest bean
growers, hired several farm labor contractors to furnish the plaintiffs and other pickers for the
six-month bean harvest each season. The workers were paid well below the minimum wage
and the labor contractors’ records listed less than half of the workers in an effort to conceal
minimum wage violations and to minimize tax and worker’s compensation insurance liabilities.
The grower contended that he did not employ the harvest workers within the meaning of the
applicable statutes.

FLS Advocate:     Greg Schell

Status: In July, 2009, the district court approved the class settlement. Over 100 class
members filed timely claims and received back wages from the class settlement fund. Under the
settlement, commencing with the current harvest season, the grower has placed all bean pickers

on its company payroll and implemented electronic timekeeping The settlement also funded an
extensive community education effort directed at Haitian farmworkers and Creole language
materials are being prepared in several different media.

9. Paseco-Castillo, et al. v. N&R Services of Central Florida, Inc. et al.     (Region V)
Case No. 8:07-cv-1804-T-RAL
United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:        200 (Polk County)

Summary: H-2A guest workers brought action to recover wages due them for picking oranges
in central Florida during the 2006-07 harvest. The workers were not credited with all hours
worked and were not fully reimbursed for pre-employment expenses for visas and inbound
transportation. After initially proceeding against the labor contractor who recruited them (N&R
Services), the plaintiffs joined the harvesting company to whom the contractor furnished the
pickers (Lakemont Harvesting).

FLS Advocates: Alejandro Reyes and Raul Barrera

Status: The case was settled with the class members who were employed on Lakemont
operations receiving a total of $35,000 in damages. In addition, a consent judgment was
entered in the amount of $120,000 in favor of the class members who worked with N&R
Services on the operations of another harvesting company.

10. Hernandez-Martinez, et al. v. Bryan Paul Citrus, Inc., et al.        (Regional V)
Case No. 8:09-cv-00020-T-24
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:        250 (Hardee and Highlands Counties)

Summary: Action by H-2A workers furnished by N&R Services to Bryan Paul Citrus, a
grower and harvesting company, during the 2006-07 harvest.

FLS Advocates: Alejandro Reyes and Raul Barrera

Status: The case was settled through mediation in July, 2009. The harvesting company has
paid its share of the settlement proceeds. The remaining defendant, N & R Services, has ceased
operations and has yet to pay its portion of the settlement.

11. Rivera-Santago, et al. v. William G. Roe & Sons, Inc.                (Region V)
Case No. 8:07-cv-1786-T-JDW
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Gonzalez-Mendez, et al. v. William G. Roe & Sons, Inc.                     (Region V)
Case No. 8:09-cv-44-T-23TGW
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         60 (Polk County)

Summary: H-2A workers brought suit seeking payment of the adverse effect wage rate and
reimbursement for pre-employment transportation and visa expenses. To conceal the wage
violations, the employer under reported the number of hours worked by the pickers. One
plaintiff seeks contract damages for his unlawful termination early in the contract period.

FLS Advocates: Alejandro Reyes and Raul Barrera

Status: The district court dismissed sua sponte the plaintiffs’ state law claims, refusing to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction. The plaintiffs have continued to pursue their federal claims
under the Fair Labor Standards Act for unpaid pre-employment expenses. On July 2, 2009, the
district court entered partial summary judgment in favor of the farmworkers in Rivera-Santiago
on the majority of their Fair Labor Standards Act claims. The parties are presently litigating
FLS’ entitlement to costs and attorney’s fees in the case.

12. Rodriguez-Rodriguez, et al. v. Frank Diehl Farms               (Region IV and V)
Case No. 8:07-cv-1998-TGW
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         50 (Hillsborough and Collier Counties)

Summary: Action by H-2A guest workers who were employed picking tomatoes during the
2006-07 harvest season. The workers were paid less than the adverse effect wage rate for their
work because of the employer’s failure to credit workers with time they spent in the fields
waiting for the dew to dry on the tomatoes prior to beginning to pick. In addition, the
farmworkers were not reimbursed for their inbound transportation and visa expenses. The
majority of the plaintiffs were terminated from their jobs after two weeks of work for alleged low
productivity, despite the fact that the employer’s work contract did not have a productivity

FLS Advocates: Alejandro Reyes and Manuel Avalos

Status: A settlement was reached through mediation under which the plaintiffs received their
pre-employment expenses and payments for the grower’s contractual breaches.

13. Rosario-Guerrero, et al. v. Orange Blossom Harvesting, Inc.            (Region V)
Case No. 2:09-cv-JES
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         100 (DeSoto County)

Summary: Class action by domestic and foreign citrus pickers employed during the 2007-08
harvest season. The workers allege that Orange Blossom failed to pay them wages as required
by law. The domestic workers were paid a lower wage than their guest worker counterparts and
were not provided with free housing, as were the guest workers.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell, Karla Martinez and Raul Barrera

Status: The plaintiffs have moved for class certification. Initial depositions have been
completed, with the remainder of discovery on hold pending the district court’s resolution of the
class certification motion.

14. Balderas-Guevara, et al. v. Mity Mole, Inc., et al.                    (Region V)
Case No. 2:08-cv-00862-JES
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         200 (DeSoto County)

Summary: Class action by guest workers employed by Mity Mole, Inc. to pick citrus fruit in
the Arcadia area during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. The workers contend that they were
paid substantially less than the mandated adverse effect wage rate for their work.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Raul Barrera

Status: A fairness hearing on the proposed class settlement will be conducted on February 1,
2010. The proposed class settlement provides for both payment of damages and improvements
in timekeeping procedures by the defendant.

15. Napoles-Arcila, et al. v. Pero Family Farms, LLC                      (Region V)
Case No. 08-80779-Civ-Hurley
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         140 (Palm Beach County)

Summary: Class action by Mexican guest workers employed picking peppers and other
vegetables for the Defendant during the 2007-08 harvest season. The workers claim that they
were not fully reimbursed for inbound transportation, visa and recruitment charges. Fifty of the
workers claim to have been terminated without cause seven weeks before the conclusion of their
work contract.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Raul Barrera

Status: The district court certified the class in June 2009 (2009 WL 1585970). A settlement
was reached under which the workers will be fully reimbursed for their pre-employment
expenses, with unclaimed class damages used to compensate the workers who claim to have
been terminated prematurely. A fairness hearing was held on January 19, with final approval
withheld pending the defendant’s compliance with the notice provisions of the Class Action
Fairness Act.

16. Dichoso v. Hyatt Corporation                                            (Region III)
Case No. 6:08-cv-2122-Orl-28
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division

Number of Workers Affected:       40 (Orange County)

Summary: Class action by a Filipino guest worker who was employed as a H-2B guest worker
at the Hyatt Grand Cypress Resort near Orlando. The suit seeks to recover the plaintiff’s
inbound transportation and visa expenses, as well as excessive sums withheld from her wages for
rental housing.

FLS Advocate:     Greg Schell

Status: A classwide settlement was approved by the district court in January, 2010, with class
members being reimbursed for their full pre-employment expenses.

17. Aleman, et al. v. C&B Farms, Inc., et al.                               (Region V)
Case No. 2:09-cv-385-36DNF
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         200 (Collier and Hendry Counties)

Summary: Vegetable workers employed in Hendry County in the 2008-09 vegetable harvest
claim that they were paid substantially less than the minimum wage. This stemmed in part
from the employer’s failure to credit the workers with waiting time at the beginning and end of
the workday.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Manuel Avalos

Status: A settlement reached by the parties was approved by the district court in January,

18.   Gaspar-Guerrero, et al. v. Everglades Harvesting & Hauling, Inc.

Case No. 2:09-cv-00384-JES-DNF
U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         5 (Hendry County)

Summary: Action by H-2A workers terminated midway through the 2007-08 citrus harvest for
low productivity. The employer imposed a production standard on it worker, despite never
having sought or received approval for such a job requirement from the Department of Labor.
The farmworkers also seek reimbursement of pre-employment expenses incurred for inbound
transportation costs and hiring fees paid to a recruiter in their local area.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Manuel Avalos

Status: Employer deposed in November, 2009.         Mediation scheduled for February, 2010.

19. Gonzalez-Gonzalez, et al. v. Alta Citrus, LLC, et al.                        (Regional V)
Case No. 2:09-cv-00388-JES-DNF
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         100

Summary: Class action on behalf of H-2A citrus workers furnished during the 2007-08 and
2008-09 citrus harvests by the defendants to Consolidated Citrus, LLP, one of the nation’s
largest citrus growers. The workers were forced to kick back to the defendants a portion of
their wages, leaving their earnings well below the wage required by both their employment
contracts and federal regulations.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell, Karla Martinez and Raul Barrera

Status: The plaintiffs joined Consolidated Citrus as a co-defendant, contending that it was a
joint employer of the workers and thereby liable along with Alta Citrus for any wage
underpayments. The parties are proceeding with discovery directed at the class certification

20. St. Julien, et al. v. LJS Farming Services Corp., et al.              (Region VII)
Case No. 09-cv-21640-Martinez
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         100 (Miami-Dade County)

Summary: Bean pickers recruited in Miami were paid far less than the minimum wage for
their work in the Homestead area. The defendants failed to record the actual hours worked by

the bean pickers, fabricating the payroll records so as to indicate compliance with federal and
state minimum wage laws.

FLS Advocate:     Greg Schell

Status: In November, 2009, the plaintiffs moved for class certification and entry of a default

21. Guerrero, et al. v. Papen Farms, Inc.
Case No. 1:09-cv-149
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:            28

Summary: Texas-based migrant farmworkers traveled to Delaware from 2005 through 2008.
 The workers and their families were assigned to severely substandard housing and were not
reimbursed for the expenses they incurred in traveling to Delaware.

FLS Advocates: Daniela Dwyer and Raul Barrera
Co-counsel:       Rudy Sanchez, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Weslaco, Texas
            Nathaniel Norton, Legal Aid Bureau, Baltimore, Maryland

Status: The grower moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the Texas court lacked personal
jurisdiction over the Delaware grower. The district court directed the parties to undertake
discovery on this issue and to file briefs relating to the jurisdiction question by March, 2010.

22. Villanueva-Gonzalez, et al. v. Grainger Farms, Inc.                     (Regions IV and V)
Case No. 2:09-cv-716-FtM-36DNF
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:          400 (Collier and Manatee Counties)

Summary: Action by H-2A guestworkers who picked tomatoes in during the 2007-08 or
2008-09 harvests.     The workers were not paid for all compensable hours of work, in part
because the employer failed to credit them with time spent waiting at the jobsite in the morning,
waiting for the dew to dry on the tomatoes. The workers also were not fully reimbursed for the
expenses they incurred in obtaining and traveling to the employer’s job.

FRLS Advocates: Daniela Dwyer, Greg Schell, Karla Martinez and Manuel Avalos
Status: Suit was filed in November, 2009.

23.   Rivera-Gonzalez, et al. v. Overlook Harvesting Company, LLC                  (Region V)

Case No. 8:09-cv-2385-T-23TBM
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:           450 (Polk County)

Summary: Suit filed by a former H-2A worker, challenging the defendant’s systematic
underpayment of guestworkers. Rather than pay the workers the required hourly wage, the
employer fabricated payroll records showing compliance with the law, while paying the workers
substantially less than shown on the payrolls.

FLS Advocates:       Greg Schell, Karla Martinez and Raul Barrera

Status:    Suit filed in December, 2009.

24. Cano, et al. v. McKenna Brothers, Inc.                                   (Region IV)
Case No. 8:10-cv-13-T-RAL-MAP
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected: 100 (Polk County)

Summary: Class action by U.S. farmworkers against a Polk County harvesting company for
failing to pay wages commensurate with those the harvesting company paid its H-2A
guestworkers. While the guestworkers were guaranteed wages between $8.56 and $8.82 per
hour, the domestic workers were guaranteed, and often received, only the state minimum wage
of $7.21 per hour. In addition, the defendant offered substantially more work to its H-2A
guestworkers than it did to the plaintiffs and other U.S. workers.

FLS Advocates:       Alejandro Reyes, Greg Schell and Manuel Avalos

Status:     Suit filed in January, 2010

25. Cortes-Morelos, et al. v. Merlo                                                 (Region IV)
Case No. 09-14332-Civ-Moore/Lynch
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Fort Pierce Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:           2 (Highlands County)

Summary: Claim by two migrant farmworkers employed near Lake Placid on the operations
of the world’s largest caladium farm. The workers were housed in substandard and unpermitted
housing, were transported in uninsured vehicles and were paid less than the minimum wage for
their work.      One of the plaintiffs suffered a debilitating injury in May, 2009, only to discover
that her farm labor contractors was not registered and failed to carry worker’s compensation

coverage. Besides seeking damages for violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural
Worker Protection Act, the injured plaintiff seeks damages relating to her workplace accident.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell, Sol Couto and Raul Barrera

Status: Mediation to be conducted in February, 2010.         Joinder of farm as co-defendant is
planned if mediation proves unsuccessful.

26. Espinosa-Vega, et al. v. Land                                    (Region II)
Case No. 09-cv-216-SPM-AK
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected: 15 (Gilchrist County)

Summary: A crew of pine straw workers was not paid wages for two weeks of work
performed in December, 2008. Incomplete records were maintained on the crew’s labor.

FLS Advocates: Alejandro Reyes and Manuel Avalos

Status:    Case settled, with grower paying all back wages due, including sums in dispute.

27. Silva-Campos v. Menera                                          (Region IV)
Case No. 2:09-cv-780-36SPC
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         1 (Collier County)

Summary: Immokalee crewleader furnished workers to a Tennessee packing house. Despite
promising the grower that the crew’s labor would be covered by worker’s compensation
insurance, the crewleader failed to purchase any such insurance. The plaintiff was working at
the packinghouse when her hand became stuck in part of the packing line machinery, severing
three of her fingers. The plaintiff incurred nearly $150,000 in medical bills and because of the
lack of insurance, remains personally liable for them.

FLS Advocates:      Greg Schell and Karla Martinez

Status: Default entered against crewleader; deposition scheduled to determine whether
Tennessee grower is jointly liable.

28. Pierre, et al. v. Ledford Farms, Inc.                                   (Region VII)
Case No. 1:09-cv-23405-JLK
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:          300 (Miami-Dade County)

Summary: Class action by bean pickers employed during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 harvest
seasons. The workers were paid substantially less than the minimum wage for their work,
virtually no payroll records were maintained on their work and none of the employee Social
Security taxes withheld from workers’ pay were actually deposited with the government.

FLS Advocate:      Greg Schell

Status: Suit filed in November, 2009.       Default entered against farm labor contractor

29. Cepeda-Martinez, et al. v. Spivey                                         (Region V)
Case No. 8:09-cv-2387-RAL-EAJ
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:          10 (Hillsborough County)

Summary: Suit by Mexican guestworkers employed during the 2007-08 strawberry harvest.
Five of the plaintiffs were fired after just a few days on the job for low productivity, despite the
fact that the grower’s job offer contained no production standard. The plaintiffs were not paid
the guaranteed wage rate for their work and none of them was fully reimbursed for his
pre-employment expenses.

FLS Advocates: Daniela Dwyer, Greg Schell and Raul Barrera

30. Charles, et al. v. Two Brothers Farms, Inc.                               (Region VII)
Case No. 1:09-cv-22879-UU
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected: 2            (Miami-Dade County)

Summary: Two elderly farmworkers were paid well below the minimum wage for picking
beans during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 bean harvests. The employer attempted to conceal
these underpayments by falsifying the payroll records.

FLS Advocate:      Greg Schell

Status: Default judgment entered against farm labor contractor defendants. Settlement
reached with grower.

31. Reyes-Lopez, et al. v. Rojas                                          (Region IV)
Case No. 2:09-cv-14331-Martinez/Lynch
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Fort Pierce Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         75 (Okeechobee County)

Summary: Mexican guestworkers bring suit for their employer’s failure to reimburse them for
any pre-employment expenses and chronic underpayment of wages.

FLS Advocates:       Greg Schell, Raul Barrera and Karla Martinez

Status:    Discovery commencing; plaintiffs may add harvesting company as a co-defendant.

32. Nicolas-Perez, et al. v. Del Campo Fresh, Inc.
Case No. 2:09-cv-637-JES-DNF
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

Number of Farmworkers Affected:         3 (Hendry County)

Summary: Migrant farmworkers recruited near Wimauma worked for defendant’s Michigan
operations. The workers were paid less than the minimum wage for their work, were
transported in uninsured vehicles, resided at the defendant’s unpermitted migrant labor camp and
were denied a promised end-of-season bonus.

FLS Advocates: Greg Schell and Karla Martinez

Status: Suit filed in November, 2009.



1.   DCF’s Modernization System and ACCESS Florida:

Number affected:      Millions

Summary: DCF relies almost exclusively on a “modernized” application process. The term
“modernization” encompasses many technology-based components including statewide call
centers, document imaging, telephone interviews, and the on-line application for TANF,
Medicaid and Food Stamp applications called ACCESS Florida (“ACCESS”). Over time,
different issues are identified by advocates and clients that affect the public’s ability to use this
modernized system. In the past, FLS identified glitches in the computer program which
impaired the ability of individuals to apply online. For example, the drop down box for “other
names used” was limited to “alias” and “maiden name”. After being notified by FLS, DCF
expanded the drop down box to include “former married name” and “other” to account for legal
name changes approved by courts or name changes upon divorce. Recently, FLS has been
contacted by several advocates whose clients were denied benefits based on the clients’ failures
to complete the interview. In truth, the clients had been notified to phone-in for interviews at a
designated number. But when the clients called, often from outside phones, they got constant
busy signals or reached a recording telling them to leave a message and they would be called
back in 24 hours.

FLS Advocates: Valory Greenfield and Cindy Huddleston

Status: FLS worked with members of the public and advocate community who have
experienced inabilities to reach DCF for a phone interview to help them prepare to testify before
a subcommittee of DCF’s new Advisory Committee on Economic Security (ACES). ACES
was convened by DCF Secretary George Sheldon to provide feedback to the Department on
improvements to make modernization work better. An FLS representative, Cindy Huddleston,
was appointed to this advisory board. Indeed, Huddleston chaired the subcommittee charged to
“identify barriers and increase participation in the ACCESS program.” The subcommittee
convened a series of meetings and took testimony from the public on several occasions. Upon
the conclusion of its initial charged tasks, this subcommittee made recommendations which were

adopted by the larger committee. The recommendations included studying improvements
needed in the interview phone system, expanding call center phone and fax line capacity,
studying changes to the policy requiring denials for failure to complete the phone interview,
possibly imposing a moratorium on denials based on failure to complete the phone interview,
and expanding a demonstration project to allow community partners to conduct interviews.
These recommendations were delivered to DCF Secretary George Sheldon in late December
2009. FLS will follow-up with DCF staff on Sec. Sheldon’s plans for approaching the
Legislature in 2010 with regard to any of the ACES recommendations. FLS continues to work
with specified advocates to take denial cases to hearing and/or do other advocacy to achieve
systemic relief.

3.   Relative Caregiver Rule Changes:

Number Affected:     Thousands

Summary: In December 2008, DCF published a Notice of Rule Development to chapter
65C-28, Family Safety and Preservation, for the ostensible purpose of aligning rules with recent
legislative and policy changes. FLS has an interest in Rule 65C-28.008 dealing with the
Relative Caregiver (RC) Program and asked for a copy of the draft. Upon review of the draft,
we realized that the rule unduly limited the children who could be eligible for RC benefits by
excluding all except those subject to temporary placements or permanent guardianships under
Fla. Stat. 39.521 and 39.6221. In contrast, the statute the rule is supposed to implement also
includes children placed permanently without guardianships and children placed under Fla. Stat.
39.622 and 39.6231.

Advocates: Valory Greenfield and Cindy Huddleston

Status: FLS submitted written comments in January 2009 in time to be considered at the
Department’s three announced rule development workshops. We asked to be notified of all
further steps taken to develop the rule. The state’s official rulemaking website shows no
published activity on the rule since the December 2008 rule development notice. Having heard
nothing from DCF in response to our comments, FLS wrote to DCF to obtain a status update.
We were informed that the Department is still reviewing comments from the workshops and
should have a time-frame for further rule development in August, 2009. The state’s official
rulemaking website continues to show no published activity on the rule since the December 2008
rule development notice. FLS contacted DCF about the status of the rule and was told we’d be
contacted with updated timeline information. Inspection of the JAPC site indicates that rule
development was apparently initiated in December 2009 as a result of an ad hoc letter from
JAPC to DCF in November 2009 pointing out corrections needed in Chapter 65C-28, FAC.
FLS intends to contact JAPC to ascertain whether it will be following up with DCF.

4.   Use of Technology in the Food Stamp Program

Number affected:     Millions

Summary: FLS has been actively monitoring the problems with the automation of Florida’s
public assistance programs’ eligibility determinations since the roll-out of “Modernization” in

Region VII in Miami-Dade County convened a food stamp task force in which FLS is involved.
The task force is exploring how modernization has impacted food stamp denials.

FLS Advocates: Valory Greenfield and Cindy Huddleston

Others: Region VII advocates: Randall Berg, Josh Glickman of JFI; Monica Vigues-Pitan,
Jose Fons, and Vivian Chavez of LSGMI; and Tom Zamarano and Marcus Gatto of FIAC.

Status: The group conferred about the nature of the problem and possible causes. An
inordinate number of denial notices state that the client did not submit the information requested
when, in truth, the client: A) has submitted all information requested but got denied anyway; B)
was never adequately notified in writing of what information was being requested before denial;
C) was not assisted by DCF before denial in getting verification that was difficult to obtain; D)
was not offered help by DCF before denial when verification submitted was inadequate. That
Florida has a “modernized” public assistance system which contributes to the problem because
there is no assigned case worker to discuss problems with, there is often no phone interview
scheduled with a case worker at which questions can be asked and barriers to application can be
discussed, and there is virtually no phone access available because the call centers are inadequate
to handle the statewide volume. Further, when clients get a denial notice which states that
information was not submitted, the client does not have enough information to be able to
determine whether to challenge the denial with a fair hearing. The same is true for denial
notices which state the reason as “no eligible members”. The group determined a preliminary
strategy. Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (LSGMI), prepared a legal memorandum for
the group, applying applicable law to the facts of their clients’ cases, did a public records act
request to DCF concerning denial code statistics and prepared a memo for the group analyzing
the data. FJI prepared a letter to Secretary George Sheldon of DCF. Secretary Sheldon
responded with information about changes implemented, changes planned, and a request for
additional time to study some of our suggestions. We continued to monitor notices and while
some promised changes were made, the underlying fundamental lack of sufficiency remains. In
late July, 2009, taskforce member Jose Fons testified about notice issues before the
subcommittee charged to “identify barriers and increase participation in the ACCESS program,”
a subcommittee of Secretary Sheldon’s DCF’s Advisory Committee on Economic Security
(ACES). Upon the conclusion of its initial charged tasks, ACES made recommendations with
respect to notices which included that notices should contain more specific individualized
information, that denial notices based on missing verification should interface with notices sent
out asking for verification, and that notices should contain information about MyACCESS,
service centers, and community partners in the recipient’s zip code. These recommendations
were delivered to DCF Secretary George Sheldon in late December 2009. The task force
intends to follow-up with Sec. Sheldon.

5.   Language Access for Limited English Proficient Unemployment Compensation


Number affected:     Thousands

Summary: In a 2004 rule litigation against the state’s unemployment compensation agency,
the case settlement resulted in the agency putting tri-lingual tag line warnings on the top of
critical documents telling claimants where to call for translations (Fernandez v. AWI). During
this DOAH case, the agency also developed a multi-lingual cover sheet insert telling claimants,
in 15 languages, the toll free number to call for language assistance. But the agency refused to
fully translate the appeal instructions on the hearing decision document itself. FLS contacted
attorneys for the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) to initiate new negotiations over
translating additional printed material for limited English proficient (LEP) claimants consistent
with the favorable opinion of the Third DCA in Garcia v. UAC in which FLS participated as
attorneys for Amicus Miami Workers Center.

Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Valory Greenfield

Status: AWI has agreed to full translation of English printed appeal instructions into Spanish
and Creole on all documents it sends that contain appeal rights: the Wage Transcript and
Determination (UCB-11); the Notice of Claims Determination (UCB-45); and the hearing referee
decision. AWI continues to send the 15 language multi-lingual cover sheet with all printed
notices. AWI agreed to make a Creole version of the online application form available for
new filers for UC benefits (there already was online application filing capacity in English and
Spanish on AWI’s website). Although AWI agreed to the foregoing, AWI would not agree to
provide translated content of notices. Instead, AWI stated it would provide content translation
help via phone. AWI issued instructions to its call centers reminding them of their obligation to
assist claimants in understanding the content of documents. In addition, AWI added 160
additional phone lines (and ordered about 180 more) to better handle the volume of calls so that
LEP persons will not get a recording that says “lines are busy; call back”. AWI made a new
1-800 number available to speakers of languages other than Spanish and Creole in May 2009.
This number enables these less common foreign language speakers to be more quickly connected
with Language Line, a service with which AWI contracts for infrequent language needs. The
new 1-800 number began appearing on the 15 language multi-lingual cover sheet by July 2009.
FLS will begin monitoring language access for speakers of these foreign languages in January
2010. FLS continued monitoring the phone lines to determine whether Spanish and Creole
speaking LEP claimants could actually get language assistance to understand the content of
printed documents as AWI intended. FLS monitored phone access for Spanish-speakers in
November and December 2009 and found the situation had not changed. Further, although one
can apply for benefits online in Spanish and English, there is no online Creole application despite
AWI’s representations that same was in the works. FLS asked AWI asst. general counsel to
convene a call with us in February. Nevertheless, the results of our 2009 phone monitoring was
sent to the Department of Labor Office of Civil Rights which is investigating AWI’s language

FLS also undertook negotiations with the Unemployment Appeals Commission (UAC).            The

UAC agreed to insert AWI’s 15 language multi-lingual cover sheets in written materials it sends
out. However, UAC refused to reconsider its practice of requiring claimants to perfect their
appeals in English. UAC will accept and docket a non-English language appeal from an LEP
claimant but requires that affected claimants file an amended notice of appeal in English. FLS
has brought UAC’s recalcitrance to the attention of the Department of Labor’s Office of Civil
Rights by furnishing evidence of same to DOL-OCR in connection with a pro se claimant’s
administrative civil rights complaint. (See Garcia v. UAC litigation summary below).

6.   Disasters and the Elderly Persons with Disabilities

A.   Disaster planning in Medicaid Nursing Home Contracts

Number affected:     Thousands

Summary: Florida law requires that contracts between state agencies and providers of care to
persons with special needs include specific disaster planning information. On information and
belief, AHCA’s Medicaid nursing home contracts do not contain that information. As a first
step to enforcing that statute, FLS made a public records act request under chapter 119 to
establish the insufficiency of those contracts.

FLS Advocates: Valory Greenfield and Cindy Huddleston
Co-Counsel: Lisa Carmona, FEJI and Leslie Powell, LSNF

Status: After receiving our chapter 119 request, ACHA informed FLS that those provisions
did not exist but that they would draft them. We have asked that a written update be provided
to us and await the language from AHCA’s Office of General Counsel. In February 2008,
AHCA informed FLS that it still has not completed revision to include this language. In
December 2008, FLS had not received any information that this language had been drafted. At
long last, in summer 2009, the contract information was provided to FLS. Sadly, AHCA’s
existing contracts with nursing home providers still do not comply with the law. In view of the
foregoing, FLS plans to seek affected persons to undertake more formal advocacy to force
AHCA to do so. As a result of the quiet storm season in summer 2009, this matter has been
held-over for further action in 2010.

7.   Examining AWI Practices

With unemployment at record heights in the state, the UC program administered by the Agency
for Workforce Innovation (AWI) has availed itself of a number of practices to move cases along,
many of which advocates have never seen before. FLS has begun actively monitoring these
practices as a result of its newly expanded statewide UC listserv. Based on evidence supplied
from advocates throughout the state, FLS is examining the legality of these practices and
determining strategic responses when the practices adversely affect unemployment compensation
(UC) claimants. FLS plans to publish a series of legal memos on these problems to share with
advocates and, as appropriate, with AWI legal counsel.

A. Examining AWI Practices: Permitting Late Appeals by Employers

Number Affected: Hundreds to thousands

Summary: FLS became aware that individuals found eligible for UC at the outset of their claims
were being subjected to late appeals by employers who had never contested the initial award of
benefits. The late appeals seemed to come at the time the claimant switched over from regular
UC to the Emergency UC program (EUC). EUC is available under federal law for prolonged
period of high unemployment. But late appeals unduly prejudice claimants for several reasons:
1) the agency issues a new determination adverse to claimants and their benefits are suspended
when the employer appeals; 2) claimants are forced to defend both a charge of ineligibility and
an overpayment charge many months after the events are no longer fresh in witnesses’ minds; 3)
claimants are not provided with any administrative finality; 4) EUC benefits are fully federally
funded and employers have no standing to contest EUC. During rulemaking for the EUC
program, FLS filed written comments bringing this problem to AWI’s attention and encouraging
AWI not to permit late appeals in the EUC program. He determined that many late appeals
were being entertained because the agency’s procedure for processing claims alleging lay-offs
does not trigger the agency to notify employers of AWI’s initial determination awarding benefits
unless the employer files a written statement concerning the circumstances of the job separation
at the investigatory stage. AWI concluded that late appeals had to be permitted because the
employer had no prior point of entry.

Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Val Greenfield

Status: After researching the agency’s position, FLS determined that the AWI was required
under state law to send a copy of the initial determination notice, including appeal instructions,
to employers even in lay-off situations without regard to the employer’s prior failure to report the
circumstances of the job separations. In late December 2009, FLS sent AWI a legal
memorandum arguing that the agency’s practice of failing to notify employers of the initial
eligibility determination in an alleged lay-off situation eligibility violates law. FLS will
follow-up with the agency in early 2010 and is consulting with advocates who have affected

8.   DCF Telephonic Fair Hearings

Number Affected: Hundreds of thousands

Summary: FLS was contacted by Coast to Coast. A client’s Medicaid fair hearing was
scheduled to be held by telephone. Review of the rules indicated that DCF had requested and
been granted an exemption by JAPC from compliance with the APA Model Rule requiring that
all witnesses be sworn-in in-person. DCF’s reason for the request was so that customers who
requested phone hearings for their own convenience could be accommodated. Nevertheless,
DCF’s own rules continued to require that witnesses be sworn-in in-person.

Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Valory Greenfield

Others: Kaylarge Eloi-Smith and Laurie Yadoff, Coast to Coast Legal Aid

Status: FLS contacted the chief of the DCF Hearing Office and was advised that DCF planned
to conduct future hearings by phone as much as possible to save costs. DCF published a notice of
rule development on hearing conduct. FLS and Coast to Coast advocates requested to
participate in the rule development workshop to be held in January 2010.

9.   DCF Eligibility Determination Rule

Number Affected: Hundreds of thousands

Summary: When DCF “modernized” its public assistance eligibility determination process,
anecdotal evidence from advocates in the field began to demonstrate that applicants were unable
to get through over the phone to DCF. Because the new centralized phone systems were so
inadequate in capacity, applicants could not reach a DCF representative on their assigned phone
interview date/time nor could they have a conversation with a DCF representative concerning
verification i.e. to clarify what was being requested or to ask for help in getting the verification.
FLS did a public records act request which revealed a dramatic spike in cases denied based on
the household’s failure to complete the interview and failure to submit requested verification.

Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Valory Greenfield

Status: DCF published a notice of rule development for 65A-1.205, Eligibility Determination.
Having been energized by the October Food Stamp Modernization training (see Training entry
below), FLS decided to take advantage of this rule workshop opportunity to use the federal
regulations to advocate for clients who are prejudiced by DCF’s inadequate phone system’s
impact on the eligibility determination process. FLS verbally provided alternative rule
language based on DCF’s regulatory obligation to only deny cases where the household has
refused, not merely failed, to complete the application process. A review of the state’s official
rulemaking site indicates that there have been no further steps taken since the rule development
workshop. FLS will monitor.

10. TANF Emergency Funds Rule

Number Affected: Thousands

Summary: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funding from the federal
government was provided to Florida through an Emergency Contingency Fund for the
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program. This money was designated by
DCF for AWI to operate a subsidized jobs program. More particularly, the money is being used
to open and staff a new ACCESS call center. AWI did emergency rulemaking in order to get
the program underway. The resulting jobs must be open to all TANF participants but the call
center is being located in Marion County which experienced a lot of job loss due to the closure of
some large employers. During the emergency rule process, FLS sent written comments to
remind AWI that forms incorporated into the rule which are used with the public should be

available, at a minimum, in Spanish and Creole and for other languages, the agency should
indicate how clients can get free translation assistance to understand the content of documents
containing vital information. Thereafter, AWI published notice of rule development and
scheduled a public workshop (pursuant to regular rulemaking). FLS requested to participate.

Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Valory Greenfield

Status: During the rule development workshop, FLS ascertained that a lot of the unemployed
workers in Marion County are expected to be first in line for these subsidized jobs.
Nevertheless, the rule requires that participants have to meet certain federal criteria, such as have
incomes below 200% of poverty, which is completely consistent with TANF Act. AWI
indicated that it intends to target both unemployed potentially skilled workers and also unskilled
TANF participants. FLS made clear its bias that the TANF funding be used to assist persons in
families who are low skilled or unskilled rather than individuals skilled enough to find new
employment on their own. Under questioning from FLS, AWI agreed it would research
modification of the rule if it permits single individuals who are noncustodial parents not residing
in families to get support services like transportation, which might be considered “assistance”
under federal law if provided in excess of four months. Under questioning from FLS, AWI
agreed it would have to amend the draft rule text to make it clear that individuals can
simultaneously participate in this subsidized jobs program while also getting any TANF grant for
which they might be financially eligible. Under questioning from FLS, AWI conceded it would
have to modify the rule and form such that program participants who apply for TANF after
leaving a subsidized job would not be required to repay any wage subsidy that went to their
employers while they participated in subsidized employment and got paid wages for work.
FLS suggested that the rule be amended to require employers to comply with all applicable
health, safety, and non-discrimination standards as opposed to only being be required to comply
with EEOC and fair employment practices as indicated by the draft rule. FLS suggested that
employers be required to provide a written plan on retention of subsidized workers after the
subsidy ends which plan would be enforceable. FLS reminded AWI that any TANF custodial
parent who leaves TANF to participate in a subsidized job should be able to get all child support
formerly assigned to the state once that parent is no longer getting cash assistance. Under
questioning from FLS, AWI agreed that it would clarify that participation in the subsidized job
program is voluntary for TANF participants such that they can not be sanctioned if loss of
support services causes them to leave their subsidized job. The official rule site indicates no
changes since the rule development workshop, so FLS will be contacting AWI for a status update
as these funds.


1. Garcia v. Unemployment Appeals Commission                                 Region VII
Florida Third District Court of Appeal
Case No. 3D07-1659

Number affected:     Thousands

Summary: Claribel Garcia was fired from her job cooking for a fast food chain after a
disagreement concerning her request for a pay raise. Her claim for unemployment
compensation (UC) benefits was denied after hearing on the basis of misconduct. All notices,
including the notice of the referees’ decision, were in English-only. She was also sent a
pamphlet about hearings and appeals in English only. As a result, she appealed the referee’s
decision late. The UAC rejected her appeal on the basis of lack of timeliness and she filed for
judicial review, pro se, with the 3dDCA. At oral argument Ms. Garcia appeared pro se without
an interpreter. Following the oral argument, the Court issued a notice inviting additional
briefing on the issue of whether Florida law required that appeal information be communicated
to the claimant in Spanish. Ms.Garcia sought help at this point from Legal Services of Greater
Miami, Inc. LSGMI contacted FLS.

FLS Advocates: Val Greenfield and Cindy Huddleston

Status: With the permission of the Court, FLS submitted an Amicus Brief in the name of the
Miami Workers Center, a technical support center for grass-roots organizing of low and no
income workers. The Court issued a favorable decision finding that Ms. Garcia was entitled to
a new remanded hearing because she did not receive UC information in Spanish. In its opinion,
the Court noted the many language access deficiencies in the UC process. This case effectively
reverses two older unfavorable decisions in the 3d DCA on the issue of the right to translated UC
notices. The remanded hearing is being handled by LSGMI.

After receipt of this opinion, FLS and LSGMI (attorney Jose Fons) assisted Ms. Garcia in filing
an administrative complaint alleging Title VI discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights of
the Department of Labor. Without prejudice to re-file, OCR-DOL declined to accept
jurisdiction to investigate based on the fact that Ms. Garcia was granted a new hearing and may
get benefits. OCR-DOL reserved the right to conduct a compliance review in the future
notwithstanding its preliminary rejection of Ms. Garcia’s individual case. Ms. Garcia
subsequently got a new hearing decision wherein the referee found against her. The hearing
decision was in English only. Further, she was again required to appeal the referee’s decision
in English only. FLA assisted Ms.Garcia in filing a new appeal with OCR-DOL and supplied
her with evidence that it is impossible to get translation assistance from AWI over the phone.
OCR-DOL has accepted jurisdiction and is investigating. FLS is a cooperating witness and has
several times submitted additional evidence to OCR-DOL demonstrating that LEP claimants can
not fully participate in the UC program due to lack of language assistance. This civil rights
investigation is still open at the OCR-DOL.

3. Ramphal et al. v. DCF                                           Region III, & IV
Division of Administrative Hearings
Case No. 08-6370RU, Filed 12/17/08

Number affected: Thousands

Summary: The federal food stamp program permits compromise of overpayment (OP) claims
at the discretion of the state agency. When the debtor’s financial circumstances indicate they
will not be able to repay the claim within three years, the state may reduce or eliminate the
overpayment debt. Florida has an overpayment rule which permits compromise. The Benefit
Recovery (BR) branch of DCF has produced a guide describing compromise policy. The policy
requires the person requesting compromise to complete a financial affidavit. The affidavit
limits the items that can be listed as expenses. BR then uses a set of written instructions to
prescribe how workers must input the financial information into a computer program. The
computer program produces an automated worksheet which calculates the debtor’s ability to
repay. Neither the guide, affidavit, computer program, worksheet, nor instructions have been
formally adopted as rules by the agency.

FLS Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Val Greenfield
Other Advocates: Laura Pichardo, CLSMF and Nancey Penner, BALS

Status: Mr. Ramphal and Ms. Calventi incurred a food stamp overpayment. When they were
unable to repay, they each requested compromise. In analyzing their ability to repay, BR
subjected the information on Mr. Ramphal’s completed affidavit to its instructions and
worksheet. This caused his telephone and electric expenses to be listed at less than what he
pays and his SSI income to be listed at greater than what he receives. As a result, DCF
determined that Mr. Ramphal could repay his OP within three years and denied his overpayment
claim. Ms. Calventi’s true economic situation was similarly ignored by DCF when it
determined her ability to repay using its forms and instructions. Ms.Calventi and Mr. Ramphal
filed an APA rule challenge to the agency’s usage of unpromulgated policies and forms. DCF
moved for summary final order stating that the forms were not rules and that it intended to
promulgate them in any event. Petitinoers defended stating that the forms were indeed rules,
that Petitioenrs were entitled to discovery to so prove, and that the summary disposition was
inappropriate. The ALJ ruled against DCF and discovery proceeded. DCF commenced
rulemaking and moved for a protective order. The ALJ ruled against DCF but simultaneously
quashed Petitioner’s notice of taking deposition. The case was thereafter abated pursuant to the
APA as DCF pursued rulemaking. When DCF published its proposed rule, Petitioners noted
that it did not incorporate any of the challenged forms. Indeed, this was among the illegalities
charged in Petitioners’ challenge to the proposed rule (Wright et al. v. DCF, see below). After
challenging the proposed rule, Petitioners moved to consolidate this abated case with the
proposed rule challenge. The consolidation was granted and Petitioners resumed discovery.
During discovery, Respondent indicated that it would not be using the challenged forms in the
future. Petitioners drew up a Stipulation for Settlement of this unpromulgated rule challenge in
which Respondent conceded the forms had never been properly adopted and that it would cease
using them. The settlement was filed and Petitioners moved to sever and dismiss the
unpromulgated challenge. This unpromulgated challenge was dismissed and the proposed
challenge proceeded.

4. Wright et al. v. DCF                                           Region III & IV
Division of Administrative Hearings
Case No. 09-2947RP, filed 5/28/09

Number affected:     Thousands

Summary: The federal food stamp program permits compromise of overpayment (OP) claims
at the discretion of the state agency when a claimant’s financial circumstances indicate that
she/he will be unable to repay the debt within three years. The state agency, Department of
Children and Family used unpromulgated forms and instructions to evaluate claimants financial
circumstances and determine compromise requests. When these forms and instructions were
challenged, DCF commenced rulemaking. But DCF proposed a rule under which only four
categories of individuals would be able to be considered for a full compromise of the
overpayment debt. Persons with income based on disability and age would only be eligible to
be considered for a partial compromise and have to repay the debt at a rate of no less than $5 per
month. Poor persons who fit none of the four categories and whose income was not based on
disability or age, would not be eligible under the proposed rule to be considered at all for
compromise. In addition, DCF proposed a compromise decision notice, to be incorporated into
the new rule, which fails to sufficiently inform claimants of the reasons for denial of their
compromise requests.

FLS Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Val Greenfield
Other Advocates: Laura Pichardo, CLSMF and Nancey Penner, BALS

Status: Petitioners Ramphal and Calventi, who had challenged the unpromulgated forms and
instructions are now joined by Petitioner Wright, an able-bodied working individual of low
income. Together the three have filed a challenge to the proposed rule.        Discovery
commenced but Respondent resisted insisting that it was willing to amicably settle Petitioners’
key concern that full compromise be available to all overpaid individuals (even though some
individuals might automatically be eligible based on their membership in the four categories
designated in the proposed rule). Indeed, in a motion for continuance of final hearing Respondent
represented to the Court that a Notice of Change to the proposed rule would be forthcoming to
said effect. However, the Notice of Change was vague. And at the public hearing on the
Notice of Change, it became clear that Respondent intends to limit compromise only to
individuals in the categories. As a result, Petitioners filed a challenge to the Proposed Rule as
Changed (see Cruz v. DCF below) and moved to consolidate the two cases.

Cruz et al. v. DCF                                          Region III, & IV
Division of Administrative Hearings
Case No. 09-6125RP, Filed 11/05/09

Number affected:     Thousands

Summary: The federal food stamp program permits compromise of overpayment (OP) claims
at the discretion of the state agency when a claimant’s financial circumstances indicate that
she/he will be unable to repay the debt within three years. The state agency, Department of
Children and Family used unpromulgated forms and instructions to evaluate claimants’ financial
circumstances and determine compromise requests. When these forms and instructions were

challenged, DCF commenced rulemaking and agreed to abandon use of the unadopted forms.
But DCF proposed a rule under which only four categories of individuals would be able to be
considered for a full compromise of the overpayment debt. Persons with income based on
disability and age would only be eligible to be considered for a partial compromise and have to
repay the debt at a rate of no less than $5 per month. Poor persons who fit none of the four
categories and whose income was not based on disability or age, would not be eligible under the
proposed rule to be considered at all for compromise. In addition, DCF proposed a compromise
decision notice, to be incorporated into the new rule, which fails to sufficiently inform claimants
of the reasons for denial of their compromise requests. When these deficiencies were
challenged (see Wright v. DCF above), DCF published a Notice of Change to the Proposed Rule.
  Now the proposed rule grants full compromise to five categories of individuals, including
persons whose income is based on age and disability. However no other poor persons outside
the five categories can be considered for compromise. Further, aged and disabled persons
would have to verify that their household income is solely based on age or disability but no form
is incorporated in the proposed rule for this purpose leaving Petitioners Ramphal and Calventi
vulnerable to compromise denial.

FLS Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Val Greenfield
Other Advocates: Laura Pichardo, CLSMF and Nancey Penner, BALS

Status: Petitioners Ramphal, Calventi, and Wright who had challenged the first proposed rule
are now joined by Petitioner Cruz, an formerly able-bodied working individual living with three
minor children and her low-wage working husband. Together the four overpaid individuals have
filed a challenge to the proposed rule as changed. This case has been consolidated with the
Wright v. DCF (see above) case. Discovery has commenced. Final hearing is set for March 3,

Division of Administrative Hearings
Case No. 09-RP, filed

Number affected:     Thousands

Summary: Department of Education (DOE) published a proposed rule that weakens the
certification requirements for LEP teachers by crediting reading teachers for ESOL endorsement
based on the rule’s presumption of an equivalence between reading training and ESOL training.
The proposal is contrary to a consent decree that DOE entered into in LULAC v. DOE, a federal
court class action. FLS, in conjunction with FEJC and FJI, filed a proposed rule challenge
contesting the validity of the proposal on the grounds that it contravenes the federal consent

FLS Advocates: Cindy Huddleston and Val Greenfield
Other Advocates: Lisa Carmona, FEJC; Randy Berg, FJI; and (pro hac vice) Jenny Lopez

Status: The action remains is in abeyance while negotiations to settle and frame

comprehensive policy are pending. To move forward on more comprehensive policy, DOE
published a notice of rule development dealing with teacher training and development for all
ESOL teachers, not merely reading teachers. Once these standards are revised, the reading
standards initially challenged by Petitioners will be compared to the new overall ESOL
competencies to see whether any equivalencies are present entitling the reading teachers to
ESOL credit. With input from Petitioners on suggested panel members, DOE convened a panel
of national and state experts, the ESOL workgroup, to make recommendations for a draft rule.
DOE also held three public workshops to accept comments on “Performance Standards, Skills,
and Competencies for the Endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages.”
Petitioners are participating in this parallel rule development process and will provide feedback
to DOE on any rule language drafts as well as recommendations of the ESOL task force. The
state anticipates having this new rule ready for approval by the Board of Education in March


Number Affected: approximately 40 attendees roughly split between two locations (six legal
services programs and one law school were represented in Tallahassee; seven legal services
programs and one law school were represented in Miami)

Summary: A training on DCF Modernization was judged such a success that the PB Umbrella
Training Committee approved a follow-up session specifically on litigating Food Stamp
Modernization issues. We were fortunate to be able to connect with two nationally known food
stamp experts, Colleen Pawling of the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, and David
Super, Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law, who were interested in training
on this topic in selected states. Florida was among the states Colleen and David wanted to
target because Florida was the first state to switch to a technology-driven application and
eligibility determination processes for its food stamp program.

FLS Advocates: Cindy Huddleston, Val Greenfield
Other FLS Staff: Kathy Grunewald, Jimmy Midyette
Others: Mandy Mills, LSGMI

Status: The training was held in Tallahasee on October 5 and repeated in Miami on October 6,
2009. FLS determined that because our national trainers were not charging us for any expenses
and were also willing to spend two days in Florida, we could experiment with venue by holding
the training twice, once in the northern part of the state and once in the southern part – as
opposed to offering the training only once in the middle of the state as we usually do. Holding
the trainings in Tallahassee and Miami also enabled us to put on the training at minimal cost by
using the conference rooms in our Tallahassee and Miami offices respectively. It also allowed
nearby programs to send several people because travel costs were minimized and no overnight
lodging or per diem was involved. David and Colleen trained on legal handles available to
attack all manner of program violations. They made the important point that the regulatory and
statutory structure of the Food Stamp program (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program or SNAP) still provides lots of protections to applicants and participants

notwithstanding a technology-based delivery system. The training included segments on
advocating with local officials (done via pre-recorded video in Tallahassee) and using the APA
as a litigation alternative.   Only 12 individuals responded to a post-training survey
evaluation. Nevertheless, the majority of the responders rated each of the presentations as very
useful. And both facilities and amenities were rated excellent by the vast majority of the


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