Chilton Circuit Court, CV-19-900120
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Medicaid Agency ("the agency") petitions this court
for a writ of mandamus directing the Chilton Circuit Court
("the trial court") to dismiss the underlying
action initiated by Carol H. Armstrong for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction, pursuant to § 41-22-1 et
seq., Ala. Code 1975, the Alabama Administrative Procedure
Act ("the AAPA"). We grant the petition and issue
materials submitted by the parties indicate the
following. On October 30, 2018, the agency awarded
Armstrong eligibility for nursing-home benefits subject to a
transfer penalty regarding a real-estate transaction.
Armstrong requested a fair hearing regarding the award and
the transfer penalty. In a letter dated May 17, 2019, the
agency informed Armstrong that it was denying her request for
a fair hearing on the basis that her request had been
untimely. The agency stated in the letter that the notice of
the award and the transfer penalty provided to Armstrong was
dated October 30, 2018, and that it did not receive a request
for a fair hearing on the matter until March 14, 2019, more
than 60 days after the notice. On May 21, 2019, the letter,
which was addressed to Armstrong's counsel and guardian,
delivered and received, as indicated in a document from the
United States Postal Service.
28, 2019, Armstrong filed a complaint in the trial court
seeking an appeal of the agency's denial of her request
for a fair hearing. Among other allegations, Armstrong
alleged that she had timely filed a request to the agency for
a fair hearing within 60 days of October 30, 2018. The agency
was served the complaint on July 23, 2019.
August 21, 2019, the agency filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In part,
the agency argued that Armstrong had failed to comply with
the requirements of the AAPA to perfect an appeal from the
agency's decision to deny her request for a fair hearing.
On October 18, 2019, the trial court entered an order stating
that it had heard arguments on the agency's motion to
dismiss. In the order, the trial court stayed the case
"while [the agency] sets ups [sic] and provides
[Armstrong] a 'fair hearing on the merits of this
contested case of denial of benefits for ...
October 18, 2019, the agency filed a "Motion to Alter,
Amend, or Vacate Order." In the motion, the agency
argued that the directives in the October 18, 2019, order
were premature because there was no justiciable controversy
before the trial court. The agency asserted that it had not
filed an answer and had filed only a motion to dismiss the
complaint. On October 20, 2019, the trial court entered an
order denying the agency's motion to dismiss.
October 29, 2019, the agency filed the present petition for a
writ of mandamus to this court. Armstrong submitted a
response to the petition on November 12, 2019. We have
jurisdiction over the petition pursuant to § 12-3-10,
Ala. Code 1975, and § 12-3-11, Ala. Code 1975.
petition for a writ of mandamus is the appropriate means to
review the denial of an administrative agency's motion to
dismiss a complaint in a circuit court for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. See Ex parte Builders &
Contractors Ass'n of Mississippi Self-Insurer's
Fund, 980 So.2d 1003, 1006 (Ala. Civ. App. 2007)
(mandamus review of denial of motion to dismiss for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction). We apply the following standard
of review to the agency's petition:
"'Mandamus is a drastic and extraordinary writ, to
be issued only where there is (1) a clear legal right in the
petitioner to the order sought; (2) an imperative duty upon
the respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so;
(3) the lack of another adequate remedy; and (4) properly
invoked jurisdiction of the court.'"
Ex parte Perfection Siding, Inc., 882 So.2d 307,
309-10 (Ala. 2003) (quoting Ex parte Integon
Corp., 672 So.2d 497, 499 (Ala. 1995)).
agency argues that the trial court lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction because, it asserts, Armstrong did not comply
with the requirements in § 41-22-20, Ala. Code 1975, for
filing a notice of appeal.
"Anyone aggrieved by a final decision of an
administrative agency in a contested case is entitled to
judicial review as provided in Ala. Code 1975, §
41-22-20. 'Appeals from [administrative-agency] decisions
are purely statutory and the time periods provided by the
statute must be strictly observed.... In other words, the
jurisdiction of the trial court is determined by compliance
with these statutory time periods.' State Medicaid
Agency v. Anthony, 528 So.2d 326, 327 (Ala. Civ. App.