Closed facility continues fight with state

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A nursing home closed 13 years ago opened a new chapter in May, when a trial between the state of New York and the home's former owner began.

Brook Chambery, the owner of the shuttered Beechwood Restorative Care Center, has long said that in retaliation for years of clashes the state's Department of Health revoked his operating certificate, leading to the facility's closure. These included disputes over deficiencies, and signing Medicaid Access agreements, court records state.

An administrative law judge affirmed in 1999 that DOH had reasons for taking away Beechwood's operating certificate related to quality issues.

A U.S. District Judge for the Western District of New York ruled in 2004 that there was insufficient evidence for Chambery's lawsuit against the state to move forward. However, a federal appellate court later said a jury should be allowed to decide.

A key piece of Chambery's evidence is an email chain between DOH administrators receiving the news that the federal government would take away Beechwood's Medicare/Medicaid provider agreement where they wrote “AMEN & HALLELUJAH” and “HOT DIGGITY DAWG,” with the latter followed by 50 exclamation marks. These could be interpreted as “a sense of triumph and satisfaction … consistent with a job well done as with an improper motive,” the court noted.

On the other hand, the court wrote that there is evidence “that the state's hostile pursuit of the partnership was motivated by an intent to punish the partnership for exercising First Amendment rights of speech and petition rather than by — or distinctly in addition to — the antagonism that arises between a regulator and the regulated (a relationship easily inflamed by difficult personalities).”

Jury deliberations in the trial were expected to begin in late June.