Emergency Suspension Orders
The most recent issues of The Florida Bar Journal included Gar Chisenhall’s two-part article on writing and challenging emergency orders (“Writing and Challenging Emergency Orders, Part I & Part II,” April and May 2013). Mr. Chisenhall did a good job explaining the issues surrounding emergency suspension or restriction orders issued by state agencies under F.S. §120.60, including that the order must show an immediate serious danger to the public health, safety, and welfare.
Additionally, however, attorneys need to know that other statutes allow or mandate the issuance of emergency suspension orders without any showing of an immediate serious danger to the public health, safety, or welfare. These relate to convictions for certain crimes, positive drug test results, student loans, and failing to pay child support.
With regard to health care professions under the Department of Health, F.S. §456.074 requires the immediate suspension of licenses for a conviction of certain felony offenses, and authorizes the department to suspend after a positive drug test result without a valid prescription. This section also requires suspension after a 45-day notice for any licensed practitioner who has defaulted on a student loan and does not provide proof of entering into a loan payment arrangement. Similarly, F.S. §455.245 requires the immediate suspension of the license of a veterinarian regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation who is convicted of certain felonies. Another example is F.S. §409.2598, which requires license suspension for the purpose of enforcing Department of Revenue child support enforcement orders.
In these instances, the legislature determined it unnecessary to demonstrate that the licensed practitioner represents a serious danger to the public. If these statutes were challenged on the basis that there is no need for prehearing suspension, absent the allegation of a serious emergency or danger, it would be interesting to know the extent to which the courts would uphold these statutes.
Donna Erlich, Tallahassee