Chicago Lawyers Representing Clients in Professional License Matters
Zimmerman Law Offices P.C. has substantial experience with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), Illinois Department of Insurance, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and can assist you, whether you are trying to gain licensure or are in need of representation to defend your license.
Contact us by e-mail or call 1-877-440-0020 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Recognized as one of the “Top 40 Illinois Lawyers Under the Age of 40,” attorney Thomas Zimmerman has extensive experience defending licensed professionals and corporations throughout Illinois and nationwide, including:
- Beauty and Barber
- Clinical Laboratory
- Daycare Facility
- Home Inspection
- Psychology and Social Work
- Real Estate Appraiser
- Real Estate Broker
- Security and Locksmith
BEAUTY AND BARBER
Cosmetology School Failed to Report Withdrawal of Accreditation — The National Accrediting Commission of Career & Sciences (NACCAS) withdrew its accreditation from a cosmetology school, put the school on probation, and imposed reporting financial requirements on the school. The cosmetology school did not notify the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) of the adverse change in the school’s accreditation. At an informal disciplinary conference, we demonstrated that the cosmetology school subsequently came into compliance with all of the NACCAS standards, and the school’s failure to inform the IDFPR was an oversight. The school’s NACCAS accreditation was reinstated, and the IDFPR closed its investigation with no discipline imposed on the cosmetology school’s license.
Clinical Laboratory Director Barred From Operating a Laboratory — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) entered a suspension that barred a person from operating any clinical laboratories. We challenged the decision and won a trial before an HHS administrative law judge. This was the first decision in the nation that ruled that the sanction applies only to the person who directed the lab at the time of the infractions, and that it does not apply to any former or subsequent director who did not bear ultimate responsibility for the misconduct that gave rise to the sanction. When HHS refused to honor the administrative law judge’s ruling, we successfully sued the federal government in federal court to hold unlawful and set aside the sanction against the lab director. As a result, HHS removed its ban on the person and approved his application for directorship of clinical laboratories.
Clinical Laboratory Inspection Reveals CLIA Condition-Level Deficiencies — A clinical laboratory was inspected by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). As a result of the inspection, the surveyors alleged that the laboratory was not in substantial compliance with certain Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), and the surveyors issued a Statement of Deficiencies (SOD) to the laboratory. We worked with the laboratory to improve its policies and procedures, instrument calibration, proficiency testing, and quality control, and we developed a Plan of Correction (POC) for the condition-level deficiencies. The IDPH and CMS accepted the POC as a credible allegation of compliance, and the laboratory was allowed to continue operating with no discipline imposed on its CLIA certificate even though this was the second time that the laboratory was found to be noncompliant.
Clinical Laboratory Shut Down Due to CLIA Condition-Level Deficiencies — A re-licensure survey was conducted on the premises of a clinical laboratory by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (FAHCA), and the inspection revealed that the lab was not in substantial compliance with certain Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). The surveyors concluded that the deficiencies posed immediate jeopardy to patient health care and safety, and FAHCA imposed a moratorium on the laboratory preventing its ability to continue performing tests on patient samples. We developed a Plan of Correction (POC) with the laboratory with respect to the use of reagents, improvement of the calibration of testing equipment, improving its policies and procedures, proficiency testing, and quality control. The FAHCA and CMS accepted the POC as a credible allegation of compliance, the moratorium was lifted, and the laboratory was allowed to continue operating and testing patient specimens with no discipline imposed on its CLIA certificate.
Daycare Facility License Application Denied due to Owner’s Felony Conviction — The City of Chicago denied a facility’s application for licensure as a Children’s Services Facility because one of the owners and operators of the facility was a convicted felon. We amended the facility’s ownership and management structure, removed the person from the bank accounts, and amended the application for licensure showing that the felon was no longer an owner, officer or director of the facility. Thereafter, the City issued a daycare license to the facility.
Dentist Accused of Patient Abandonment — A dentist was accused by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) of abandoning a patient prior to completing a pre-paid dental treatment plan. We represented the dentist, who was in the process of moving to a different office during the alleged “abandonment” of her patients. We proved that the dentist gave her patients proper notification of the office move, and the IDFPR dropped the case with no disciplinary action taken against the dentist’s license.
Dentist Accused of Improper Billing — The Illinois Department of Financial of Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a dentist of overcharging patients for services. We represented the dentist, and demonstrated that his unbundling of charges for certain dental services was proper. We convinced the IDFPR to close their file with no disciplinary action taken against the dentist’s license.
Air Force Dentist Investigated for Conviction of Possession and Use of Cocaine — A venerable and highly esteemed dentist, who provided high-quality dental care to the Airmen and supporting United States Air Force, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conviction of attempted possession of a controlled substance without intent to be introduced to interstate commerce in the state of Nevada. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued a notice threatening to impose discipline on his dental license based on his conviction. In an informal disciplinary conference, we presented letters of support from the dentist’s fellow colleagues and superior officers, which highlighted his responsible character and military bearing. We also provided evidence to the Dental Board of the dentist’s continued education by producing his certificate from the Chicago Dental Society, as well as verification from the US Air Force Dental Service that the dentist passed the courses he took for the American Dental Association of Continuing Education Recognition Program (ADA CERP). Additionally, the results of a substance abuse evaluation performed by a Board certified addiction and substance abuse physician confirmed that the dentist’s ability to work was never impaired and that there should be no restrictions on his practice. We convinced the IDFPR that the misdemeanor conviction was not directly related to the practice of dentistry, and the lapse in judgment in his own personal life did not impair his ability to practice with reasonable judgment, skill, or safety. The IDFPR closed its file with no discipline imposed on the dentist’s license and no restrictions on his practice.
Application to Practice Structural Engineering Under a Professional Design Firm Registration Denied — An out-of-state engineering firm providing consulting engineering, testing, and inspection services applied to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to provide structural engineering services under its Illinois professional design firm registration. The IDFPR denied the application because the purpose clause in the firm’s articles of incorporation did not include the practice of structural engineering services. We amended the firm’s purpose clause in its Authority to Transact Business in Illinois to include the practice of structural engineering services, in addition to professional engineering services, but the firm’s articles of incorporation in its home state did not include such a clause. It would have been unreasonable for the IDFPR to require a structural engineering purpose clause in the firm’s home state articles of incorporation, as that state’s laws do not require such a clause. We obtained a variance from the IDFPR, and the IDFPR added structural engineering services to the firm’s design firm registration.
Professional Engineer Denied Licensure for Lack of Experience — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a man’s application to become a licensed professional engineer because he did not have the required number of years of experience after graduating from college and prior to taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PPE) examination. We appealed the IDFPR’s decision to the circuit court, and argued that the IDFPR had not identified the factual basis for its decision to disregard certain experience that could not be verified. The circuit court agreed, and remanded the matter back to the IDFPR with an order that the IDFPR hold a formal hearing regarding the applicant’s experience. We won on remand, and the IDFPR issued the license.
Home Inspector Accused of Inadequate Home Inspection — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a home inspector of failing to find moisture in a home’s crawl space. The crawl space flooded after the home was sold to a new owner. We argued that the inspector’s home inspection report documented the presence of moisture stains in the crawl space, and also documented that the crawl space vents were blocked. In the report, the inspector recommended that these deficiencies warranted attention and repair, and he further recommended that a qualified licensed water proofing contractor seal a crack in the home’s foundation to prevent further water intrusion into the crawl space. The inspection report also documented that the grading around the house had an improper, moderate slope towards the foundation. We produced weather reports showing that there were torrential rains and flooding in the neighborhood two weeks after the home inspection, and we argued that any moisture and mold in the crawl space were likely caused by the home’s structural and grading deficiencies and record-breaking storms. The IDFPR closed their file with no disciplinary action taken against his license.
Insurance Producer Renewal Application Denied due to Conviction for Theft — The Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) denied a man’s application to renew his insurance producer license because he was convicted for theft in connection with submitting duplicate insurance claims for payment. We provided evidence that his son submitted the duplicate insurance claim, and the man plead guilty to the crime in order to spare his son from the criminal proceedings. The man had no pattern of criminal behavior, and he performed extensive charitable and community service. The DOI reconsidered its denial of his renewal application, and his insurance producer license was renewed.
Insurance Producer License Application Denied due to Felony Conviction — The Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) denied a man’s application for an insurance producer license because he had a felony conviction for aggravated battery. At trial, we presented evidence of the man’s extensive volunteer work with underprivileged children, and testimony about his character and reputation for truthfulness and honesty. He previously underwent and passed a screening process to become a licensed teacher with the Illinois State Board of Education and a certified wrestling coach, and there was no pattern of criminal conduct. The DOI reconsidered its denial of his application, and he subsequently became licensed.
Insurance Agency Accused of Converting Premium Trust Money — An insurance agency was accused by the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) of using its insured’s premium payments to pay the agency’s overhead instead of remitting the money to the insurance carrier to pay premiums for the insured’s insurance policies. We successfully demonstrated to the IDFPR that a former partner of the agency had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars (for which he went to prison), and that the agency was not at fault for the temporary misuse of funds. No insurance policies were canceled and the agency eventually repaid the money. The IDFPR dropped the case with no disciplinary action taken against the agency’s license.
Insurance Producer Accused of Altering Insurance Declaration Page — The Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) alleged that a licensed insurance producer submitted to an insurer the declaration page of a Habitational BOP policy that was altered in that the deductible was changed from $50,000 to $1,000. As a result, the insurance company paid a $17,000 claim. The DOI revoked the producer’s license. In its Order of Revocation, the DOI alleged that the producer used dishonest practices and demonstrated untrustworthiness and financial irresponsibility. We provided evidence that an insurance producer working for the accused insurance producer erroneously selected an incorrect deductible from the drop down menu on the insurer’s website when applying for coverage. The error was discovered shortly after the date of loss, and the accused insurance producer informed the insurer of this fact on a recorded telephone line. We demonstrated to the DOI that at no time did the accused insurance producer attempt to hide this fact from the insurer, and the insurer had full knowledge of this issue when it erroneously paid the claim. We convinced the DOI to close its file, and the insurance producer was allowed to continue in practice.
Application for Physician and Surgeon License Denied Due to Termination From Prior Employment — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued a Notice of Intent to Deny an application for a physician and surgeon license to an applicant due to her termination from the hospital where she previously had been working. We produced the “Notice of Termination” issued to the applicant, which indicated that the hospital had chosen to exercise its right to terminate her employment without cause in accordance with her status as an “at will” employee. This demonstrated that the termination was explicitly designated by the hospital as “without cause,” and did not suggest or indicate that she had engaged in any dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional behavior resulting in her termination. Additionally, we provided evidence that she satisfied all of the qualifying education, experience, and application requirements to obtain licensure. Furthermore, we provided letters of recommendation from the physician’s co-workers, chief of surgery, nurse practitioners, and patients from the hospital where she was previously employed, all of whom affirmed that the termination was not related to problematic behavior or unethical practices. The IDFPR reconsidered its denial of the application and issued the physician and surgeon license unencumbered.
EMT-Paramedic Accused of Improperly Using Medical Supplies for His Personal Use — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) accused an EMT-paramedic of violating the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act by improperly using medical supplies without proper medical authorization for the purpose of treating his own personal symptoms. We obtained statements from his co-workers contradicting the IDPH’s allegations. Our audit of the rescue squad’s inventory also demonstrated that all of the medical supplies were accounted for during his shifts. The IDPH closed their file with no disciplinary action taken against his license.
Chiropractor Failed to Provide Requested Medical Records to Patients — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a chiropractor of failing to provide his patients with their records after they made several requests for copies of the records. We explained to the IDFPR that at the time the record requests were being made, the chiropractor was experiencing problems with his office manager, who had misfiled the records and inadvertently failed to produce them to the patients. We were able to convince the IDFPR that the chiropractor had no intent to withhold the records from his patients, and the records were properly produced once the office manager’s oversight was discovered. The IDFPR closed the case with no disciplinary action taken against the chiropractor.
Chiropractor License Summarily Suspended for Improper Touching of Female Patient — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) summarily suspended a chiropractor’s license, claiming that he improperly had a female patient undress and improperly touched the patient while performing Spinal Touch Treatment on her. The patient was complaining of chronic hips rotation, and she came to him specifically for this treatment. Through the use of medical textbooks and expert witness testimony at trial, we demonstrated that the chiropractor properly performed the Spinal Touch Treatment, and his chiropractic physician license was restored to active status.
Cardiologist Accused of Killing a Patient — A cardiologist’s license was summarily suspended by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for alleged gross negligence and unprofessional conduct arising out of his injection of potassium chloride to a patient who was suffocating to death. We successfully appealed the ruling to the circuit court, which reversed and vacated the IDFPR’s suspension based on the medical examiner’s destruction of evidence which violated the doctor’s constitutional due process rights.
Doctor Accused of Failure to Diagnose Ankle Fracture — A doctor of internal medicine was accused of failing to diagnose an ankle fracture in a patient, resulting in a permanent injury. His medical malpractice lawsuit settlement was reported to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). We successfully defended the IDFPR case on the basis that the doctor ordered an initial x-ray which was negative for a fracture, and the patient’s symptoms were consistent with an ankle sprain. When the patient’s symptoms did not resolve the doctor ordered an MRI and referral to an orthopedic surgeon, which were delayed due to the patient’s health insurance carrier refusing to authorize the test and referral. The IDFPR closed the case with no discipline taken against the doctor.
Massage Therapist License Application Denied for Alleged Fraudulent Misstatements — After believing that she had successfully completed the curriculum of an approved massage therapy school, a woman took and passed the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) and applied to become a licensed massage therapist. She submitted her graduation certificate and course transcript with her application, but the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied her application because, as it turned out, her instructor was not affiliated with the massage therapy school. We explained that the woman did not commit fraud in her application, but rather that she had been deceived by the instructor. The woman subsequently completed the curriculum of a different massage therapy school, and she became licensed.
Anesthesiologist Diverts Fentanyl at Work — An anesthesiologist sent a self-report letter to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to disclose that he had diverted Fentanyl from his work place and had become dependent on opioids. We represented the anesthesiologist at an informal disciplinary conference, and he admitted that his dependency was derived from a stressful period in his life when he had started a new job and transitioned into working 100 hours a week, in addition to taking care of his newborn child. In effort to sleep at night, he diverted Fentanyl from his hospital, and his opioid addiction subsequently intensified. We showed the IDFPR that he had taken it upon himself to enroll in Presence Behavioral Health Professionals Program for his opioid dependency. Additionally, we were able to outline the anesthesiologist’s current and future recovery plans, which included his compliance with the conditions of the Illinois Professionals Health Program’s (IPHP) Agreement of Care, Counseling, and Treatment that required him to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Caduceus Group meetings, and individual therapy. We demonstrated that he fully complied with all of the terms of his IPHP agreement, and we convinced the IDFPR to close the file and allow the anesthesiologist to continue working with no restrictions imposed on his license.
Physician’s Medical License Suspended for Obtaining Medication for Personal Use — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) suspended a physician’s medical license because she had been writing prescriptions for made-up patients and obtaining them for herself to treat her own medical conditions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigators became involved and alleged that the physician was writing fake prescriptions and obtaining Fioricet for several years for her personal treatment of chronic headaches. The physician fully cooperated with the DEA’s investigation and voluntarily surrendered her DEA registration. After the physician successfully complied with all of the terms of her Consent Order, we drafted and filed a petition to restore her license to active status. Thereafter, we represented the physician at an informal disciplinary conference where we provided the IDFPR with a report from a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction medicine, in addition to a letter from a supervising physician at the medical clinic where the physician worked, who agreed to supervise the physician if her medical license was reinstated. We provided evidence that the physician had satisfactorily complied with the Illinois Professional Health Program’s (IPHP) conditions of her Aftercare Agreement and Health Program Recovery Plan, and was sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant the public trust, and we convinced the IDFPR to reinstate her physician and surgeon license unencumbered.
Anesthesiologist Terminated from Hospital for Making Sexual and Inappropriate Comments Towards a Female Resident — An anesthesiologist was terminated from his employment at a hospital due to a complaint made by a female resident alleging that he made inappropriate sexual comments towards her. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) launched an investigation in the matter, and we represented the physician at an informal disciplinary conference. We provided statements and letters from his surgical colleagues, medical directors, residents, and medical students from the hospital where he worked at prior to his termination, all of whom commended the anesthesiologist’s high-quality clinical skills and competency. The statements and letters also reaffirmed that the physician’s comments were either misinterpreted by the female resident or never said at all. No one else heard the alleged remarks. Additionally, we discovered that his situation was most likely instituted in retaliation for previous complaints he made to the hospital in regards to its improper administrative practices. The hospital retaliated and manipulated the facts of the incident involving the female resident to use as grounds to terminate the anesthesiologist; nevertheless, we successfully convinced the IDFPR to close its investigation with no further action taken against the anesthesiologist’s license or practice.
Nurse Dispensed Wrong Medication to Discharged Patient — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a registered nurse of dispensing the wrong medication to a patient. The patient had been discharged, and his family members came back to the hospital to pick up his medication. The nurse looked in the medication cart, and she found the medication with the patient’s name on it and gave it to the family. Although the hospital terminated the nurse’s employment, we argued that the nurse did not breach the Code of Ethics due to the fact that this was not her patient, she did not have access to the patient’s medical chart, she was unaware that the prescription had been discontinued, and she dispensed the medication only because it was on the medication cart with the patient’s name on it waiting to be picked up. The IDFPR closed its investigation with no disciplinary taken against the nurse.
Nurse License Application Denied Due to Criminal Convictions — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued a Notice of Intent to Deny a registered nurse license application based on the applicant’s criminal convictions for public intoxication, theft of services, and two DUI’s. We obtained reports from therapists and counselors who treated the applicant in her prior inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment, and we argued that the results of her substance abuse evaluation and prior treatment demonstrated that there was no need for any further treatment and that her ability to practice as a nurse was not impaired. We also argued that she was no longer in an environment that would provoke past behaviors that could lead to poor decision-making, so there was no risk of recurrence of bad behavior. The IDFPR reconsidered its decision, and issued the registered nurse license unencumbered with no practice restrictions.
Director of Nursing Accused of Failing to Properly Supervise Nursing Staff Leading to Death of Patient — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a director of nursing of failing to properly supervise her nursing staff, and failing to have a policy that required the nurses to provide prompt notification to a physician of patients’ critical laboratory results. A patient who was taking anticoagulants had critically high PT/INR test results, and a staff nurse faxed these laboratory results to a physician instead of calling him with the results. The patient subsequently bled out and died. Although the facility did not have a formal written policy in place, the director of nursing had her own informal policy that specifically required the nursing staff to immediately call a physician with any critical test results. At an informal disciplinary conference, we demonstrated that the staff nurse violated the director of nursing’s informal policy by failing to immediately call a physician with the patient’s test results, and the director of nursing was not at fault for the staff nurse’s mistake. We convinced the IDFPR to close the file with no discipline imposed on the director of nursing’s license.
Nurse Diverts Narcotics to Treat Panic Attack at Work — A registered professional nurse diverted Demerol, Versed, and Fentanyl to self-medicate in an effort to stop a panic attack that he was having at work. Thereafter, he voluntarily underwent substance abuse treatment. We represented the nurse at an informal disciplinary conference where we argued that the nurse had been stable and sober for months and, based on the results of a substance abuse evaluation, his ability to practice was not impaired and no practice restrictions were necessary. Additionally, we produced the nurse’s awards and performance reviews, and reports from his therapists showing his compliance with treatment. We were able to convince the IDFPR to enter into an Agreement of Care, Counseling, and Treatment, and the nurse was allowed to continue to practice with no work restrictions and no discipline imposed on his license.
Nurse Fails to Report Malpractice Settlement After Patient Commits Suicide — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) requested a letter of explanation relative to the settlement of a malpractice claim against a nurse that was brought by the family of a deceased patient. The nurse was working in the emergency department and an intoxicated man was admitted as a patient; however, he was put in a psychiatric observation room due to overcrowding in the emergency department. The patient was intoxicated, but he was calm and stated that he was not going to hurt himself. The patient had no prior psychiatric history, and there were no indications that the patient was psychologically unstable. We demonstrated to the IDFPR that the nurse was attempting to transfer the patient for proper care of his cardiac condition, and it was not his responsibility to monitor the video feeds from the cameras that were mounted in the observation rooms at the time the patient committed suicide. The IDFPR closed its investigation with no discipline imposed on the nurse’s license.
Nurse Diverted Norco at Work — A registered nurse was terminated from her employment at a hospital due to her refusal to submit to a drug test. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) alleged that the nurse removed Norco seventeen times from the hospital’s Omnicell without any documentation that patients actually received the medication. We explained to the IDFPR that the diversion occurred during a low point in the nurse’s life after she suffered a miscarriage while dealing with her unfaithful spouse and during her battle with anxiety and depression. We were able to demonstrate to the IDFPR that the nurse had been taking proactive steps in her life through marriage counseling and the continuation of therapy for anxiety and depression, and we provided the IDFPR with multiple near-perfect performance evaluations. Additionally, her substance abuse evaluation showed that her therapy was successful and she was no longer at risk for any future use of narcotics. We successfully convinced the IDFPR to allow the nurse to keep her license with no work restrictions.
Nurse License Application Denied due to Retail Theft Conviction — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a woman’s application to become a registered professional nurse because she was convicted for retail theft. She also failed to disclose the conviction on her application for licensure. She was a teenager at the time of the arrest. Thereafter, she became a Certified Nursing Assistant and was working as a phlebotomist. We convinced the IDFPR to reconsider their decision, and issue her a license.
Nurse License Application Denied due to a History of Substance Abuse and Several Felony Convictions for Retail Theft — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a woman’s application to become a registered professional nurse because she had a history of substance abuse and was convicted several times for retail theft. We explained that she was a minor at the time she engaged in the criminal conduct in order to support her substance abuse. Since then she relocated, successfully completed treatment, and had been in full remission for several years. We obtained a report from her former treating psychiatrist who recommended her as fit to practice nursing, and rendered the opinion that she was in full remission and her prior illness would not interfere with her ability to practice as a nurse. We also presented positive testimonials from her college professors. The IDFPR reconsidered their decision and issued the license.
Licensed Practical Nurse Application Denied for Substance Abuse — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a man’s application to become a licensed practical nurse because he had previously been convicted of possession of cannabis on three separate occasions and he had a DUI conviction. We had the man evaluated by an independent addiction specialist, who rendered the opinion that the man was clean and sober and that his prior substance abuse issues would not interfere with his ability to practice as a nurse. With this evaluation, we persuaded the IDFPR to reconsider its decision and issue the license.
Nurse Accused of Exceeding the Scope of Practice — A registered professional nurse performed a patient assessment and administered a vaccine to a patient. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused the nurse of exceeding the scope of practice. We successfully defended on the basis that the nurse was also employed as a nurse supervisor by a Home Health Care Agency (HHCA) at the time he performed the assessment and administered the vaccine. Working in that capacity, the regulations allowed the nurse to assess the patient and administer a vaccine pursuant to an HHCA policy developed in consultation with a physician. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline taken against the nurse.
Nurse Storms Out of the Operating Room During an Operation — A registered professional nurse was working as the circulating nurse in the operating room (OR) during a surgery. The surgeon was extremely rude and insulting to her, and she stormed out of the OR half-way through the surgery because she was in extreme emotional distress due to his behavior. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused the nurse of unprofessional conduct and patient abandonment. We successfully defended on the basis that a medical assistant remained in the OR to perform all of the circulating duties for the duration of the surgery, there was no danger to the patient, and there were no complications during or after the surgery. Additionally, we argued that the code of ethics actually required the nurse to leave the OR, as she was unable to perform her duties due to her emotional distress. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline taken against the nurse.
Nurse Accused of Disclosing Confidential Patient Information — A registered professional nurse became acquainted with a man who spent a significant amount of time in various emergency departments due to his alcoholism. His alcohol dependence was well-known, public knowledge among the numerous police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, and other health care professionals in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused the nurse of creating a Facebook group and posting comments concerning personal information about the man after his death. We successfully defended on the basis that it was an innocuous Facebook listing that did not identify the man by name or disclose any confidential or individually identifiable health information about the man. After the nurse became aware that other people had posted inappropriate comments, she immediately disabled the Facebook listing. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline taken against the nurse.
Nurse Accused of Improper Delegation of Duties and Improper Charting — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a registered professional nurse of improperly delegating her duties by allowing an emergency medical technician (EMT) to administer a shot of morphine to an emergency room patient. The IDFPR further accused of the nurse of improperly charting that she administered the drug. In representing the nurse, we explained that the EMT was permitted to administer that drug to patients outside of the hospital, the nurse was allowed to delegate that duty to an EMT in an out-of-state hospital where she formerly practiced, the nurse had recently come to Illinois and she mistakenly thought it was proper for her to delegate that duty to an EMT in Illinois, and there was no harm to the patient. The IDFPR closed the file with no disciplinary action taken against the nurse.
Nurse’s License Suspended Due to DUI Arrest — A licensed practical nurse’s license was put on probation due to prior convictions for DUIs and possession of cannabis. During his probation, the status of his license was still active, which allowed him to continue working as long as he complied with the terms of his probation. After taking a required quarterly urine test, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) alleged that his test results showed up as positive for both alcohol and narcotics. This directly violated the parameters of his current probationary status, so the IDFPR suspended his license. We filed a petition to restore his license to active status by challenging the accuracy of the nurse’s urine test results from the laboratory. We demonstrated to the IDFPR that the laboratory results indicated levels of Methadone and narcotics in his system that were so high, the nurse would be dead if the results were legitimate. Furthermore, during the nurse’s probationary period, there were no reports of destructive, abnormal, or unprofessional behavior at the hospital where he worked. If the results of the nurse’s urine test were accurate, the fatal level of narcotics detected in his system would make it impossible for any human being to function, let alone work without showing any signs of impairment. The nurse had an alcohol and drug evaluation performed by a certified addiction and substance abuse counselor, and the result of the nurse’s substance abuse evaluation showed no indication of drug or alcohol use and provided further evidence that his practice had never been impaired. We were able to prove that the results of the urine test from the laboratory were completely erroneous, and the IDFPR restored the nurse’s license to active status with no restrictions.
Registered Nurse License Application Denied For Alleged Rough Handling of Patients — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a renewal application for licensure as a registered professional nurse due to the applicant’s termination from his prior employment for alleged rough handling of patients. The nurse allegedly used profanity on the unit and came to work hung-over from excessive alcohol use, and was also accused of rough handling patients. At an informal disciplinary conference, we produced a professional accountability paper that the nurse wrote and previously submitted to the IDFPR in which he took responsibility for his actions. Additionally, we presented certificates of completion for five continuing education classes relative to the issues at hand. Despite the allegations of his obstructive behavior, we produced a positive work evaluation from the nurse’s previous assistant nurse manager and letters of recommendation from the nurse’s colleagues and supervisors, which further demonstrated his competence, care, teamwork, and professionalism in the workplace. We successfully convinced the IDFPR that his experience and dedication to the nursing profession would lend itself to high quality patient care, and the IDFPR granted the nurse licensure with no discipline imposed on him.
Pharmacist Forged Multiple Prescriptions Using a Physician’s DEA Number — A licensed pharmacist forged multiple prescriptions for Norco using a physician’s DEA number. The pharmacist had been prescribed Norco after having a C-Section and suffering from post-partum depression, and she became addicted to Norco. The pharmacy terminated her employment, and she admitted herself into substance abuse treatment where she received group and individual counseling. Her substance abuse evaluation showed that she had successfully completed treatment, and we provided the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) with letters of recommendation from her previous co-workers. We successfully convinced the IDFPR to close its investigation without imposing any discipline on the pharmacist.
Pharmacist Application Denied to Russian Woman — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a Russian woman’s application to become a licensed pharmacist. We obtained documents and sworn statements from her pharmacy school in Russia, and represented the woman in a formal administrative hearing at the IDFPR. The IDFPR administrative law judge (ALJ) upheld the denial of her license application. We appealed the ALJ’s ruling to the circuit court and won. The circuit court reversed and vacated the ALJ’s decision, and the court allowed the person to become licensed. As a result, this was the first time that a graduate of a Russian pharmacy school was granted a pharmacist license in Illinois.
PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIAL WORK
Licensed Professional Counselor Application Denied Due to Domestic Battery Conviction — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a Licensed Professional Counselor application due to the applicant’s domestic battery conviction. The events occurred during a difficult period in the applicant’s life, which included her involvement in a relationship with a boyfriend who was emotionally abusive, her role as a financial provider to her unemployed mother, and her time spent working in an unfulfilling industry unrelated to the profession of counseling. This led her to seek psychiatric counseling. She was diagnosed with depression and insomnia, and prescribed an antidepressant and Ambien to help her sleep. She fell into a deep sleep in which she attempted to hurt her ex-boyfriend, but she had no recollection of what actually happened that night. We produced letters of recommendation from the applicant’s co-workers, the clinical supervisor of her treatment of depression and insomnia, as well as the applicant’s professors who all attested to her exemplary and responsible work ethic and character. We also produced medical literature and case studies to demonstrate that she had experienced an adverse pharmacological reaction to Ambien in combination with an antidepressant, which caused her to act aggressively in a clinically-induced psychosis. The IDFPR reconsidered its decision and issued the professional counselor license to her.
Clinical Professional Counselor Application Denied for Insufficient Education — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a woman’s application to become a clinical professional counselor because her master’s degree college program did not have all of the required courses in its curriculum. She took an additional course after graduation to fulfill the content area deficiency, but her application was denied because that course was not part of the initial degree program curriculum. We appealed the IDFPR’s denial to the circuit court, where we argued that the combination of her master’s degree curriculum and the additional course met all of the educational requirements for licensure. The IDFPR reconsidered its denial of her application, and she subsequently became licensed.
Clinical Psychologist Had Patient Records Stolen — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) was in possession of a clinical psychologist’s confidential patient records, which had been stolen. We sued the IDFPR in the circuit court, and obtained a restraining order compelling the IDFPR to return the stolen records to the clinical psychologist.
Professional Counselor License Application Denied for Insufficient Education — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied a woman’s application to become a licensed professional counselor because she purportedly did not graduate from an approved master’s degree college program. We appealed the IDFPR’s denial to the circuit court, where we presented expert testimony to establish that she met all of the educational requirements for licensure. The circuit court reversed the IDFPR’s denial of her application. But, the IDFPR still did not authorize her to take the National Counselor examination, so we filed a motion to hold the IDFPR in contempt of court. Thereafter, the IDFPR authorized her to take the examination, and she subsequently became licensed.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Accused of Filing a False Report — Prospective adoptive parents filed a complaint against an adoption agency coordinator for allegedly filing a false home-study report that revoked the parents’ ability to adopt children. The home-study coordinator had originally approved the family, but the family failed to provide the entirety of a requested psychological report, and the withdrawn pages of the report expressed concerns about the mother’s obsessive compulsive disorder. The couple’s reaction to the home-study report’s concerns exhibited troubling behavior, and when asked to seek counseling before the agency would place children in their home, they refused to do so. We demonstrated to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that, based on the information revealed in the withheld psychological documents, in addition to the worrisome behavior displayed in reaction to the home-study coordinator’s retraction of the parent’s approval to adopt, the clinical social worker was acting in the best interest of the children. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline imposed on the social worker’s license.
REAL ESTATE APPRAISER
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of Generating a Misleading Appraisal — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) alleged that a real estate appraiser generated a misleading appraisal that violated the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) due to an alleged failure to use appropriate, comparable sales for the subject property by using comparable sales in a rural area that were outside subject property’s neighborhood boundary. The subject property was located in a small, farming community. We demonstrated that the real estate appraiser used comparable sales that were similar to the ranch-style homes located within the boundaries of the subject property’s neighborhood, and all of the comparables were within the same school district as the subject property. The IDFPR closed its investigation with no disciplinary action taken against the real estate appraiser.
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of Generating Misleading Appraisal — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a real estate appraiser of generating a misleading appraisal report in violation of Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Competency and Standards Rules. The appraiser stated in his report that he had personally taken the photographs of the subject property, but the photographs in the report were actually copied from the Multiple Listing Service. Additionally, the appraiser allegedly failed to use comparables that were inside the subject property’s neighborhood boundary. We were able to demonstrate that the comparable sales used in his report were from neighborhoods with the same zip code and that had similar market values as the subject property, and there were no traceable differences in market value based on the similar market features of the subject property. The appraiser admitted to his error in judgment when stating in his report that the photographs of the subject property were his own. We presented the IDFPR with multiple letters of recommendation from appraisers in adjoining market areas, co-workers, the Supervisor of Assessments, and the Clerk of the Board of Review who had reviewed several of the appraiser’s reports, all of whom attested to the accuracy and credibility of the appraiser’s reports, as well as the appraiser’s reputation for integrity. The IDFPR closed its file with an administrative warning letter and no discipline or restrictions imposed on the real estate appraiser’s license.
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of Fraudulent Appraisal — At the request of a mortgage lender, a real estate appraiser excluded a coach-house that was on the property from his appraisal report. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused the appraiser of acting as an advocate for the lender by allowing the lender to select what would and would not be given consideration on the property. The IDFPR’s complaint alleged that the appraiser violated the Conduct Section of the Ethics Rule in USPAP. We successfully represented the appraiser by demonstrating that the appraisal report was complete and accurate, considering his client’s intended use of the appraisal, the client’s direction that he include only the two-flat building in the appraisal valuation such that the “scope of work” was that physical segment only, and the appraisal report disclosed that there was a separate coach house that was not considered in the valuation. The IDFPR closed the file on the condition that the appraiser completes two continuing education classes.
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of Failing to Take Required Continuing Education Classes — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a real estate appraiser of failing to take the required amount of continuing education classes mandated by the IDFPR during his latest license renewal period. The appraiser took some non-approved CE from the Appraisal Institute just prior to the start of the latest renewal period. We petitioned to have that CE approved by the IDFPR and applied to the latest renewal period. The IDFPR agreed, and closed the file with no discipline taken against the real estate appraiser.
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of Producing Deficient Appraisal Report — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a real estate appraiser of failing to develop a credible cost approach and failing to support an opinion of the site value for the property he was appraising, in violation of Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). We demonstrated that the physical, functional and external conditions that factored into the calculation of the effective age of the property, and the neighborhood and market conditions affecting the marketability of the property, were all set forth in the supplemental addendum attached to the appraisal report. Although the supporting information was not set forth in the appropriate sections of the appraisal report, it was included in the addendum. We convinced the IDFPR to close the file with no discipline taken against the real estate appraiser.
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of “Low Balling” a Property Valuation — A real estate appraiser was accused of developing a property valuation that was too low. The appraiser used comparable properties within a one-half mile radius of the subject property located in an urban area for the sales comparison analysis. The homeowner was not satisfied with the appraised value. In an effort to artificially inflate the value of the subject property, the homeowner wanted the appraiser to consider properties that were each located over one mile away from the subject property, and place a higher weight on a non-typical sale of a nearby property. We successfully defended on the basis that the comparable properties that were actually used by the appraiser would produce credible assignment results under Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) because the comparable properties located within the immediate neighborhood area of the subject property were the best indicators of its value, and the distant properties did not accurately reflect the most probable market price for the subject property. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline taken against the real estate appraiser.
Real Estate Appraiser Accused of Producing Misleading Appraisal for Property — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued a notice of informal disciplinary conference to a real estate appraiser accusing him of producing a misleading appraisal for a subject project. After preparing a subject property’s appraisal report, the IDFPR alleged that the appraiser failed to note that a trainee had assisted him in the production of the appraisal. We represented the appraiser at an informal disciplinary conference and demonstrated that the trainee’s contributions to the completion of the appraisal report did not exceed the scope of what the trainee was permitted to do, in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Competency and Standards Rules. While the trainee’s aid in the creation of the appraisal report did not violate USPAP guidelines, the appraiser acknowledged that he should have included a statement in the report indicating that the trainee provided significant assistance in the production of the appraisal. The IDFPR issued an Administrative Warning Letter and closed the file with no discipline imposed on the real estate appraiser’s license.
REAL ESTATE BROKER
Real Estate Managing Broker Accused of Failing to Update MLS Property Listing — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a real estate managing broker of failing to timely reactive a property listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). There was a contingent offer on the property. After the offer was canceled, the real estate broker was waiting for written authorization to remove the property’s “contingent” status on the MLS. The property owner complained that the broker failed to timely reactive the property’s MLS listing. Through an examination of e-mails and other correspondence between the property owner and broker, we demonstrated that the broker updated the property’s MLS status the same day that he received written authorization from the owner, in compliance with MLS rules and regulations pertaining to a change in a listing’s status. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline imposed on the broker.
Real Estate Broker Accused of Failing to Return a Security Deposit and Failing to Disclose Status as a Licensed Broker — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused a real estate broker of listing a room for rent that she owned without disclosing her ownership interest in the property, and subsequently failing to return the applicant’s security deposit. We relied on the broker’s separate written addendum to the rental application that was provided to the potential tenant, which disclosed in writing that the broker had an ownership interest in the property, as well as her status as a licensed real estate broker. We also defended on the basis that the application contained a written term providing that if the potential tenant canceled the application, the security deposit would be forfeited as liquidated damages. This was permitted due to the fact that no lease agreement was ever finalized between the parties. The IDFPR closed its investigation with no discipline imposed on the real estate broker.
Real Estate Agent Denied License Renewal — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) denied the renewal of a real estate agent’s license, because the agent had not fulfilled the pre-renewal continuing education requirements mandated by the IDFPR. We advised the agent to take the required continuing education courses, and we appealed the IDFPR’s decision based on the administrative regulation that allows post-renewal continuing education to be applied to the pre-renewal period. We won the appeal, and the IDFPR renewed the agent’s license.
Real Estate Broker Accused of Failing to Provide Required Documents — A real estate agent filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) alleging that a broker failed to provide the agent with a signed copy of the agent’s Independent Contractor Agreement, as required by the Illinois Administrative Code. Prior to filing his complaint with the IDFPR, the agent had breached the Agreement by surreptitiously having his real estate license transferred to another broker under false pretenses and without providing any advance notice to the broker, and the broker had lodged a complaint with the IDFPR arising out of the agent’s professional misconduct. We demonstrated to the IDFPR that the agent had been given a signed copy of the Agreement, and the agent’s complaint was merely an attempt to exact vengeance on the broker for previously lodging a complaint against the agent. The IDFPR closed the file with no discipline taken against the real estate broker.
Real Estate Broker Accused of Fraudulently Certifying His Continuing Education Compliance — A real estate broker inadvertently failed to complete the required amount of continuing education (CE) classes, and he mistakenly certified on his renewal application that he had completed all required CE. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) accused the real estate broker of fraudulently certifying his CE compliance on his renewal application, and the IDFPR denied his license renewal. We appealed the IDFPR’s denial, and had the broker take additional CE classes. The broker submitted the post-application CE to the IDFPR to be credited to the pre-renewal period, pursuant to applicable regulations. The IDFPR reconsidered its denial, and issued the renewal license.
Real Estate Brokerage Firm Accused of Causing a Delay in Closing on a Property — During a real estate transaction in which a buyer wanted to close on a property in a very short period of time, the buyer’s bank erroneously reported to the listing brokerage firm that the buyer had insufficient funds to process the earnest money check. Based on this information, the brokerage firm postponed the closing and requested certified funds from the buyer to ensure that the earnest money would be available for the closing. The buyer complained to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), alleging that the brokerage firm acted unethically and improperly by failing to promptly deposit the earnest money check in its premium trust fund account and by causing a delay in the closing. We successfully demonstrated to the IDFPR that the brokerage firm was an innocent victim of faulty information provided by the buyer’s bank, and the IDFPR closed the file with no disciplinary action taken against the broker or the brokerage firm.
Real Estate Brokerage Firm Audited by IDFPR — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) conducted an on-site audit of the books and records of a real estate brokerage firm. Prior to the audit, we conducted an internal audit of the records and business practices to ensure that the licenses and identification signs were properly displayed; there were appropriate employment and independent contractor agreements between the broker and licensees sponsored by the broker; unlicensed assistants were not performing duties for which a license is required; the brokerage was properly incorporated and licensed; the brokerage agreements and listing agreements contained all of the required information; all transaction forms were appropriate and completely filled-out; the brokerage’s advertising contained all required disclosures and was not misleading; all dual agency agreements were properly disclosed; all escrow money was properly and timely deposited and disbursed; the brokerage had a bookkeeping system that included a journal of money received and disbursed, transaction ledgers, monthly reconciliation statements, and a master escrow account log; all banking and escrow account records were properly maintained for the minimum period of time; and that the managing broker was exercising reasonable supervision over the activities of licensees and unlicensed assistants. We were present at the brokerage for the 2-day audit, and the IDFPR found no deficiencies in the records or business practices of the brokerage.
Roofing Contractor License Application Denied Due Criminal Convictions — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued a Notice of Intent to Deny a roofing contractor license application due to the applicant’s prior criminal convictions for burglary, unlawful use of recorded sound, and unlawful use of trade. We represented the roofing contractor at an informal disciplinary conference where we explained the details of his convictions that had occurred during his adolescent years, and we argued that his subsequent work experience dealing with customers and their financial affairs demonstrated that he warranted the public trust. We also produced letters of recommendation and his passing grades from the Illinois Residential Roofing Contractors examination. The IDFPR reconsidered the denial of his application, and issued a qualifying party roofing contractor license to him.
Roofing Contractor Accused of Inadequate Work After Roof Fails a Village Inspection Test — A roofing contractor was hired to put a new roof on a residential home, which entailed tearing off two layers of shingles from the old roof, replacing rotting plywood, and installing new shingles. When a village inspector came to inspect the roof, he walked on it and claimed that it did not feel firm but instead felt “soft and springy.” The inspector erroneously concluded that the roofing contractor did not correctly nail the new plywood to the beams, and the roof failed the village inspection. This caused the homeowner to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), and we represented the roofing contractor at an informal disciplinary conference. We explained to the IDFPR that the materials and span of the plywood used in the installation of the roof are what caused it to feel “soft and springy” when the inspector walked across it, due to the fact that the plywood was only 3/8 inches thick and the trusses were 24 inches wide. The village inspector came back a second time, and the roof passed the inspection. We were able to prove that the roofing contractor’s work met all professional standards, and the IDFPR closed the file with no discipline imposed on the roofing contractor.
SECURITY AND LOCKSMITH
Locksmith Agency Accused of False Advertising — The City of Chicago Department of Consumer Services filed an administrative complaint against a locksmith agency for allegedly advertising business addresses at locations within the City where the agency did not actually maintain a physical place of business. We successfully represented the locksmith agency by negotiating a deal whereby the City dropped the charge in exchange for the locksmith agency agreeing to request the removal of all addresses situated within the City at which the agency did not maintain a physical place of business from all publications listing such an address.