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Former state ombudsman argues against lawsuit dismissal

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Brian Lee

By Sascha Cordner

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-995289.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – A hearing scheduled for Monday that would have decided the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Florida's former nursing home ombudsman, who says the state forced his resignation, has been cancelled. As Sascha Cordner reports, Brian Lee amended his complaint to include defamation by an industry group as well as alleging the state violated a law by interfering with an ombudsman's duties.

Florida's ex-Long term care ombudsman Brian Lee claims Governor Rick Scott forced his resignation because of complaints from the Florida Health Care and Florida Assisted Living Associations. Lee says the industry groups weren't happy when he tried to seek information on problems that may exist in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. So, that's why he says the outcome of his lawsuit will affect residents and families not only in Florida, but also across the country.

"If we were to fail in this litigation, then it could be a domino effect for other ombudsman offices because the industry is closely watching what is happening and if they can bully the ombudsman program through political officials in Florida then, it could be happening in other states as well."

Though the Scott Administration did not comment on the lawsuit, it contends Lee served at the pleasure of the Governor and could be fired at any time.