The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down a strongly worded ruling that removes U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes Jr. from his involvement in the 12-year-old challenge to Tennessee’s managed-care program, TennCare.
The State of Tennessee had sought relief from the Sixth Circuit, asking that its judges remove Haynes from the case and vacate a 2000 consent decree governing TennCare’s early-screening programs. The court chose to vacate a small part of the consent decree but then agreed to take Haynes off the case.
“This situation combines serious management failures, fundamental misunderstandings that potentially prejudice defendants, and a developing adversarial relationship between the judge and the defendants,” the judges wrote. “Here, the unusual decision to reassign the case is justified.”
Furthermore, the ruling seems to rebuke Haynes for his handling of the case since it was assigned to him in 2006, as well as U.S. District Court Judge John T. Nixon, who had the case before voluntarily recusing himself early that year after he allegedly had improper communications with the special master overseeing the program.
The ruling states, in part:
“The district court’s view of the history of this litigation, as outlined in the order from which defendants appeal, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the import of certain key events in the case. Although the issues raised by the motion to vacate the consent decree have nothing to do with defendants’ compliance or noncompliance with it, the district court thought it important to recount its version of the compliance history in great detail.
“It quotes at length from the decree itself, Judge Nixon’s 2001 order finding noncompliance, and Judge Nixon’s October 2004 order finding noncompliance. It also relies on Judge Nixon’s comments regarding compliance in his February 2006 recusal order. Yet nowhere does the court mention that Judge Nixon subsequently set aside the October 2004 order, that the parties jointly requested that the order be set aside, that the findings and conclusions of that order had been placed in jeopardy by the issues concerning ex parte communication by the court with the special master (communication that arguably formed a basis for the order), or that no ruling on plaintiffs’ 2004 motion for further relief has ever been made.”
The judges go on to further chastise Haynes and Nixon by stating, “The history of the case reveals an alarming lack of timely progress toward resolving plaintiffs’ August 2004 motion for further relief and no progress at all toward the ultimate resolution of this case filed in 1998.”
To read the entire order, click here.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS