Al-Shaikh v. State Department of Health Care ServicesAnnotate this Case
Al-Shaikh, an orthopedic surgeon, moved his Fremont practice and sought approval by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), under Medi-Cal regulations. He had been an approved Medi-Cal provider in Fremont for six years. DHCS denied his application, claiming that Al-Shaikh’s fee arrangement with his billing service was unlawful. Al-Shaikh appealed. DHCS agreed the provisions it had cited were inapplicable but cited another state law, incorporating a federal Medicaid regulation. Al-Shaikh filed suit, then relocated his Auburn practice, for which he used the same billing service; the relocation was approved by a different DHCS regional office. Al-Shaikh cited an Office of the Inspector General publication that expressly states his fee arrangement does not violate federal law. DHCS approved the Fremont office after three years. The court dismissed the case as moot. Al-Shaikh moved for fees under Code of Civil Procedure 1028.5, which allows a small business or a licensee that prevails in an action against a state regulatory agency to recover a maximum of $7,500 in fees if the agency acted without substantial justification. The court of appeal directed the superior court to award Al-Shaikh the full amount recoverable under section 1028.5. DHCS has an obligation to be knowledgeable about the law it is charged with implementing and was unable to cite a case or regulatory decision supporting its position; it acted without substantial justification.