Superior Court County: King. Superior Court Cause No: 94-2-09821-7. Date filed in Superior Court: January 30, 1995. Superior Court Judge Signing: Hon. Nancy Holman.
Written by: Judge Ellington. Concurred by: Judge Agid, Judge Cox
ELLINGTON, J. -- The Board of Nursing appeals an order setting aside the Board's disciplinary action against Deborah Hutmacher. The Superior Court concluded that the Board lacked jurisdiction because the Board did not
commence an adjudicative proceeding within a 90-day statutory time limit. The Board claims that the time limit is inapplicable because the Board commenced an adjudicative proceeding on its own initiative. We agree and reverse.
On November 6, 1991, Hutmacher illegally obtained medication by removing drugs from the emergency room of Virginia Mason Hospital. The Board issued a Statement of Charges against her nursing license on November 9, 1992. In her answer of November 27, 1992, Hutmacher chose not to contest the charges but requested a settlement conference with the possibility of a hearing.
From December 21, 1992 to August 11, 1993, the parties unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a settlement. In letters of June 3, and August 11, 1993,*fn1 the Board withdrew its settlement offer and stated that it would set a hearing to resolve the matter. On November 12, 1993, the Board informed Hutmacher that her hearing would be held on December 13, 1993.
At a prehearing conference, Hutmacher argued that the Board lost jurisdiction over her case by failing to commence a hearing within the 90-day period that followed her answer. Hutmacher relied on RCW 34.05.419, which provides:
After receipt of an application for an adjudicative proceeding, other than a declaratory order, an agency shall proceed as follows:
(1) . . . within ninety days after receipt of the application . . . the agency shall do one of the following:
(a) Approve or deny the application, in whole or in part, on the basis of brief or emergency adjudicative proceedings . . . .
(b) Commence an adjudicative proceeding in accordance with ...