A consistent and significant problem in many Pennsylvania disciplinary licensing matters I handle involve professionals who mistakenly stipulate to discipline in another state and then mistakenly fail to report the discipline to Pennsylvania’s licensing board. The reporting must be done within ninety days of the final disposition of that matter. This is a statutory requirement and set forth at 60 P. S. §221.1.
Failing to report is huge disciplinary error easily avoided. Pennsylvania’s licensing boards (including Nursing, Medical, Pharmacy, Osteopathic, Automobile, Real Estate, Social Work, Marital Counseling, or Psychiatry) receive notification of disciplinary decisions from other jurisdictions based upon information provided in many traveling professional’s applications for a second or third state license.When a final disciplinary order is entered in another jurisdiction, that jurisdiction communicates to every state for which the licensee holds a license. Pennsylvania is typically one such jurisdiction because many professionals secured their first professional license here upon graduating from one of our many fine teaching institutions. Failing to report a discipline is easily discovered by, and the basis for discipline in, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
With regard to the factual basis of any disciplinary proceeding, I see the same mistake many times: inexperienced council or unrepresented professionals erroneously agree to discipline and sign agreements or stipulations unaware of how the terms of the agreements will affect a Pennsylvania licensee. To the inexperienced practitioner (attorney or professional), seasoned state disciplinary counsel seek and secure amazing factual stipulations that admit medical errors, professional incompetence, or drug and alcohol impairments. These factual stipulations are then linked to legal stipulations that satisfy each jurisdiction’s legal burdens for suspension, probation, or revocation of a license. Once this is done, discipline in Pennsylvania is inevitable.
After agreeing to certain facts and what may seem moderate discipline, a certified order of stipulated facts and discipline makes its way to Pennsylvania. The unrepresented professional may forget this fact, but agrees to the discipline because of an inability to hire experienced counsel or the prohibitive cost of mounting an effective defense. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s respective licensing board commences its own disciplinary proceeding based upon the factual and legal stipulations to which the licensee has already agreed, whether or not they reported such to Pa. Hence, I am called to address a second disciplinary process commenced in Pennsylvania.
The case of Phillip Romanelli v. Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, 2011 Comm.Ct. Lexus 911 (November 1, 2011), is a clear example of the pitfalls of failing to fight a discipline in another state, failing to report the discipline, and then failing to appear and contest Pennsylvania’s discipline. Romanelli lost his license in another state, failed to timely report such and then decided too late to fight Pennsylvania’s proceedings. Ultimately, Pennsylvania’s license revocation proceedings were allowed.
The Romanelli case makes clear that it is the licensee’s responsibility to respond to all litigation documents. Failure to do so will be at one’s own pitfall. The dual difficulty in these cases is binding decisions from another jurisdiction and traveling to the Commonwealth. It is important to contest every aspect of every proceeding in another jurisdiction and not stipulate to facts that will be included in any final decree or decision of a licensing board. Stipulations to unfitness, incapacity, professional misconduct, or drug and alcohol addictions and impairments will allow the Pa. boards to restrict, limit, revoke, or emergently suspend your license.
Do not ignore Pa. corollary disciplinary actions merely because you are now practicing your profession elsewhere. A subsequent discipline in Pa. will have to be reported back to your new home state where one disciplinary matter was just fought. Inability to travel to Pa. or not practicing in Pa. are not basis to ignore these proceedings. I represent many individuals residing and practicing throughout the United States with an initial Pa. license. Many of my clients are professionals unable to return to Pennsylvania to address the hearings or deal with the Pennsylvania Court filings. I fight the case in Pa. while you remain home in your new adopted state.
Stipulations to a monitor program or treatment in another jurisdiction will become the basis for Pennsylvania to require the same or suspend your license. Pennsylvania's monitor program, PMP or PHMP, is governed by an overly restrictive and statutorily required boilerplate contract. Even if you fail to report the discipline, which is a separate basis for discipline in PA, agreeing to a monitored program outside of Pa will result in Pa’s version being forced upon a licensee in Pa. Do not sign any such agreement without fighting that case.
Currently I represent an individual who was counseled incorrectly on this exact issue. She is now confronted with a non-Pennsylvania disciplinary action/monitoring requirement being utilized by the Pa. licensing board to investigate her for both for failure to report and the necessity of monitoring. She has secured new non-Pa. counsel to open and contest the underlying disciplinary actions so as to eliminate the possibility of having to enter the PHMP and being disciplined for failing to report a discipline. Returning to the first disciplining state and re-contesting agreements or stipulations is the only way to proceed.
Please call me to discuss any non-Pennsylvania disciplinary action and its ultimate affect on your underlying Pennsylvania license. Please call me to discuss the requirements for reporting you're non-Pa disciplinary action on your active Pennsylvania license.
Please call me to discuss any Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enforcement action you receive as a result of a non-Pennsylvanian disciplinary proceeding or agreement. Please call me to discuss negotiations and strategy of your non-Pennsylvania disciplinary matter with the anticipation of having to report the same to the Pennsylvania licensing authorities.