Appealing Revoked Individual License Due to Medical Neglect Charge

In Ann & Jan Retirement Villa, Inc. v. Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services, 580 So. 2d 278 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991), the Department had issued a license to DeRuiter, who owned all the stock in an adult congregate living facility, Ann & Jan Retirement Villa, Inc. When DeRuiter tried to renew the license for the facility, the Department conducted a search through the Florida Protective Services System Control Abuse Registry and discovered that an investigation by Aging and Adult Services indicated that DeRuiter had been a perpetrator of medical neglect. Therefore, the Department denied DeRuiter's request to renew the license for Ann & Jan and also revoked her individual license until she could prove herself not guilty of the medical neglect charge. Ann & Jan appealed the denial of the license to the Division of Administrative Hearings. Ann & Jan filed a motion for summary judgment on the issues of the Department's revocation of DeRuiter's license and the denial of the license renewal. Thereafter, the Department filed a notice of dismissal. The Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) conducted a hearing on entitlement to attorney's fees and costs under the Florida Equal Access to Justice Act (FEAJA) and denied the request for attorney's fees and costs. On appeal, the Fourth District reversed, finding that Ann & Jan, the entity that brought the appeal, and Sophie DeRuiter were "one and the same entity" and thus qualified as a "small business party" as defined by section 57.111(3)(d)--a sole proprietor of an unincorporated business. It is clear from the face of the opinion that the action was styled in the name of the business entity and not in the name of the individual owner/employee.