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Altru Specialty Services, Inc. v. North Dakota Department of Human Services

Supreme Court of North Dakota

November 20, 2017

Altru Specialty Services, Inc., d/b/a Yorhom Medical Essentials, Appellee
v.
North Dakota Department of Human Services and Christopher D. Jones, in his capacity as Executive Director of North Dakota Department of Human Services, Appellants

         Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.

          Monte L. Rogneby (argued) and Justin J. Hagel (appeared), Bismarck, ND, and Timothy R. Dittus (on brief) and Megan J. Flom (on brief), Grand Forks, ND, for appellee.

          James E. Nicolai (argued) and Elizabeth Fischer (appeared), Bismarck, ND, for appellants.

          OPINION

          VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

         [¶ 1] The North Dakota Department of Human Services appealed from a district court judgment reversing the Department's order deciding Altru Specialty Services, doing business as Yorhom Medical Essentials, received overpayments for medical equipment supplied to Medicaid recipients and ordering recoupment. We conclude the district court did not have jurisdiction and the appeal should have been dismissed because Yorhom failed to satisfy statutory requirements for perfecting an appeal. We reverse and remand.

         I

         [¶ 2] Yorhom provides durable medical equipment to North Dakota Medicaid recipients. The Department administers the state Medicaid program, including paying claims providers submit. The Department hired a third party contractor to conduct an audit of state Medicaid programs, including auditing past payments to providers to ensure state Medicaid billing procedures and policies were followed by providers who requested payment of Medicaid claims. The audit identified numerous claims the Department paid to Yorhom that did not meet billing procedures. The contractor determined those claims were overpayments and the Department was entitled to seek recoupment.

         [¶ 3] On September 17, 2015, Yorhom appealed the contractor's decision on nine claims worth $27, 099.27 to the Department under N.D.C.C. § 50-24.1-24, requesting reversal of the audit findings. Yorhom provided documents and other information supporting its request for review. On April 13, 2016, the Department issued an order, finding Yorhom did not comply with billing procedures, an overpayment was made in the amount of $25, 192.21, and recoupment was proper.

         [¶ 4] On May 13, 2016, Yorhom filed its notice of appeal and specification of errors in the district court. Yorhom also served its notice of appeal and specification of errors on an assistant attorney general in the Attorney General's Office. Yorhom argued the Department's decision was not in accordance with the law because the Department did not comply with statutory requirements and Yorhom complied with billing requirements.

         [¶ 5] The Department moved to dismiss, arguing service was improper because it was untimely and the agency was not properly served. The district court denied the motion.

         [¶ 6] After a hearing, the district court reversed the Department's decision. The court concluded the Department's decision was not in accordance with the law because it did not comply with the statutory time requirement for issuing the decision and it failed to show good cause for the delay.

         II

         [¶ 7] The Department argues the district court lacked jurisdiction and the appeal should have been dismissed because it was not properly served with a timely notice of appeal.

         [¶ 8] Under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, the district court has original jurisdiction of all causes, except as otherwise provided by law, and has appellate jurisdiction as provided by law or rule of the supreme court. Appeals from decisions of an administrative agency to the district court involve the exercise of appellate jurisdiction as provided by N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8 and as conferred by statute. Opp v. Dir., N.D. Dep't of Transp., 2017 ND 101, ¶ 8, 892 N.W.2d 891. For the district court to acquire subject matter jurisdiction, the appellant must satisfy statutory requirements for perfecting an appeal. Id.; see also Benson v. Workforce Safety ...


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