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AHCA seeks to block deposition in nursing home case

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(WPLG)

The state Agency for Health Care Administration asked a judge Friday to shield a high-ranking agency official from being deposed in a legal battle about revoking the license of a Broward County nursing home.

AHCA attorneys filed a motion asking Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy to block the deposition of Molly McKinstry, a deputy secretary at the agency.

The motion came in a legal challenge filed by The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills to a decision last month by AHCA to revoke the facility's license.

The revocation decision came after eight residents of the nursing home died Sept. 13, three days after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility's air conditioning.

As part of challenging the license revocation, the nursing home's attorneys subpoenaed documents from AHCA and are seeking to depose McKinstry, who oversees the agency's Division of Health Quality Assurance.

In the motion filed Friday, AHCA's attorneys objected to turning over subpoenaed documents, calling many of the nursing home's requests “overbroad.”

They also wrote that McKinstry should not be subject to a deposition because the nursing home could get the same information by deposing lower-ranking officials.

“Within AHCA, the deputy secretary is a high-ranking administrator, second only to the secretary of the agency,” the motion said. “It is improper for a party to compel the testimony of a high-ranking agency official, unless the party establishes that the testimony to be elicited is necessary, relevant and unavailable from a lesser ranking officer.”