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Leon V. v. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

Supreme Court of Nebraska

January 18, 2019

Leon V. and Cristy V., on behalf of Paige V., a minor child, appellees,
v.
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services et al., appellants.

         1. Administrative Law: Judgments: Appeal and Error. A judgment or final order rendered by a district court in a judicial review pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act may be reversed, vacated, or modified by an appellate court for errors appearing on the record.

         2. __:__:__. When reviewing an order of a district court under the Administrative Procedure Act for errors appearing on the record, the inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.

         3. Judgments: Appeal and Error. An appellate court, in reviewing a district court's judgment for errors appearing on the record, will not substitute its factual findings for those of the district court where competent evidence supports those findings.

         4. Administrative Law: Judgments: Statutes: Appeal and Error. To the extent that the meaning and interpretation of statutes and regulations are involved, an appellate court decides such questions of law independently of the decision made by the court below.

         5. Administrative Law: Statutes. Properly adopted and filed agency regulations have the effect of statutory law.

         6. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory language is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, and an appellate court will not resort to interpretation to ascertain the meaning of statutory words which are plain, direct, and unambiguous.

          Appeal from the District Court for Lancaster County: Susan I. Strong, Judge. Affirmed in part, and in part reversed and remanded with directions.

          [302 Neb. 82] Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Ryan C. Gilbride for appellants.

          Ann C. Mangiameli and Joanna Uden, Senior Certified Law Student, of Legal Aid of Nebraska, for appellees.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik, and Freudenberg JJ.

          MILLER-LERMAN, J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         Because the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) found that Paige V.'s gastrointestinal impairments would not last for at least 12 months, it determined that Paige was ineligible for Medicaid funding through the Nebraska Medicaid Assistance Program and hence ineligible for "assistance to the aged, blind, or disabled" (AABD) Medicaid waiver services. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 68-1001 et seq. (Reissue 2018). Leon V. and Cristy V., on behalf of their minor child Paige, sought review by the district court for Lancaster County under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The district court found that the evidence showed that Paige was disabled for purposes of determining Medicaid benefits. The district court reversed the DHHS order and remanded the matter with directions to award Paige AABD waiver services and reimburse Leon and Cristy for medical expenses. DHHS and two of its officers, in their official capacities, appeal. Although they do not dispute the finding that Paige was disabled for determining Medicaid eligibility, they claim that the district court erred in its instructions on remand when it directed DHHS to award Medicaid waiver services and ...


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