Hardee v. State , No. 83728–7.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtJ.M. JOHNSON, J.
Citation256 P.3d 339,172 Wash.2d 1
PartiesKathleen HARDEE, Petitioner,v.STATE of Washington, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES, Respondent.
Decision Date07 July 2011
Docket NumberNo. 83728–7.

172 Wash.2d 1
256 P.3d 339

Kathleen HARDEE, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Washington, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES, Respondent.

No. 83728–7.

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.

Argued Oct. 28, 2010.Decided July 7, 2011.


[256 P.3d 341]

Philip Albert Talmadge, Sidney Charlotte Tribe, Talmadge/Fitzpatrick, Tukwila, WA, Carol Farr, Leonard W. Moen & Associates, Renton, WA, for Petitioner.Patricia Lee Allen, Office of the Attorney General, Seattle, WA, Jay Douglas Geck, Office of the Attorney General, Olympia, WA, for Respondent.Sarah A. Dunne, Nancy Lynn Talner, ACLU of Washington Foundation, Seattle, WA, Lenora M. Lapidus, Ariela M. Migdal, Risha K. Foulkes, American Civil Liberties Union, New York, NY, amicus counsel for American Civil Liberties Union and National Employment Law Project.Joan Kristine Mell, III Branches Law PLLC, Fircrest, WA, amicus counsel for Childcare Advocate Resource & Education and Employees International Union Local 925.Alberto Daniel Casas, Northwest Justice Project, Tacoma, WA, Joy Ann Logan Von Wahlde, Millicent Delaine Newhouse, Northwest Justice Project, Seattle, WA, amicus counsel for Northwest Justice Project.John W. Schedler, Schedler Bond PLLC, Mercer Island, WA, amicus counsel for Washington State Veterinary Medical Association.J.M. JOHNSON, J.

[172 Wash.2d 3] ¶ 1 A statute provides that the State's decision to revoke a home child care license should be upheld if it is supported at an evidentiary hearing by a preponderance of the evidence. In Ongom v. Department of Health, 159 Wash.2d 132, 134, 148 P.3d 1029 (2006), we held that due process requires the State to support a decision to revoke a nursing assistant's registration under the higher standard of clear and convincing evidence. The question in this case is whether constitutional requirements of due process require the State to support its decision to revoke a home child care license by the higher standard of clear and convincing evidence. We hold that it does not and overrule our decision in Ongom.

¶ 2 The Department of Early Learning 1 (Department) revoked Kathleen Hardee's license to operate her home child care business. Hardee requested an administrative hearing, and the hearing officer rescinded the Department's revocation. A review judge reversed the hearing officer and issued an order revoking Hardee's license. In her order, the review judge determined that the Department proved its case against Hardee by a preponderance of the evidence. The superior court and the Court of Appeals affirmed the order. Hardee argues that constitutional due process requires the Department to prove its case by clear and convincing evidence and that the review judge did not properly defer to the hearing officer's findings of fact.

[172 Wash.2d 4] ¶ 3 We affirm the Court of Appeals and hold that, at an administrative hearing, constitutional due process requires no more than a preponderance of the evidence to justify the revocation of a home child care license. In doing so, we overrule our previous decision in Ongom. We further hold that the review judge gave appropriate deference to the hearing officer's findings of fact and that the equal access to justice act (EAJA), RCW 4.84.350, does not entitle Hardee to attorney fees.

Facts and Procedural History

¶ 4 Hardee worked as a licensed home child care provider for 22 years. Sometime in the year 2000, the Department grew concerned with the actions of Hardee's teenage son, William, who lived in her home.2 In 2001, concerns regarding William culminated

[256 P.3d 342]

when he received a juvenile conviction for harassment, intimidation of a student, and fourth degree assault for threatening a person at school with a knife. Because of William's disqualifying criminal conviction, the Department initiated an action to revoke Hardee's home child care license, but ultimately abandoned the action because William left the home.3 William returned to the home in 2003 under a safety plan that prohibited him from having unsupervised access to child care children. Throughout 2004–2005, Hardee requested two similar waivers to allow William to remain at her house, despite his disqualifying conviction.

¶ 5 In July 2006, the Department received a report from the King County Sheriff's Office. King County reported that William, then 19 years old, sexually assaulted a three [172 Wash.2d 5] year old child that he babysat. The child victim did not attend Hardee's child care, and the sexual assault did not occur during child care hours. However, the incident occurred in Hardee's home. 4 KING COUNTY CHARGEd wiLliam with firsT degree rape of a child. William pleaded guilty of first degree child molestation and was incarcerated.

¶ 6 In response to King County's 2006 referral, the Department suspended Hardee's license and initiated an investigation. The Department concluded that Hardee violated conditions of the 2003 safety plan and subsequent waivers. The investigation revealed allegations that William had unsupervised access to children in Hardee's child care business.5 The investigation also led to allegations that Hardee failed to report other individuals who lived in her home who had not received mandatory criminal background checks and that Hardee provided child care after her 2006 suspension. The Department revoked Hardee's license on the basis of its investigative findings.

¶ 7 Hardee requested an administrative hearing to challenge the license revocation. An administrative law judge (ALJ) conducted the hearing, rendered factual findings, concluded that the revocation was unwarranted, and rescinded the license revocation. A review judge disagreed with the ALJ, issuing a final order containing revised factual findings and revoking Hardee's child care license.6 The review judge denied Hardee's petition for reconsideration. Hardee petitioned the superior court for review of the decision and order. The superior court affirmed. On appeal, [172 Wash.2d 6] the Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 152 Wash.App. 48, 63, 215 P.3d 214 (2009). Hardee then successfully petitioned this court for review. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 168 Wash.2d 1006, 226 P.3d 781 (2010).

Analysis

¶ 8 Hardee argues that constitutional due process requires the Department to justify its revocation of her home child care license by clear and convincing evidence, that the review judge failed to give proper deference to the ALJ's factual findings, and that she is entitled to attorney fees under the EAJA. We disagree. We hold that, at an administrative hearing to revoke a home child care license, the requirement that the Department justify its revocation by a preponderance of the evidence satisfies due process. We expressly overrule Ongom. We further hold that the review judge gave appropriate deference to the ALJ's findings of fact, and that the EAJA does not entitle Hardee to attorney fees.

[256 P.3d 343]

A. Standard of Review

¶ 9 The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) governs judicial review of administrative agency decisions. RCW 34.05.510; see also Tapper v. Emp't Sec. Dep't, 122 Wash.2d 397, 402, 858 P.2d 494 (1993). The party challenging an agency decision has the burden of demonstrating the invalidity of the agency's action. RCW 34.05.570(1); see also Thurston County v. W. Wash. Growth Mgmt. Hr'gs Bd., 164 Wash.2d 329, 341, 190 P.3d 38 (2008). The APA provides nine bases on which to challenge an agency decision, two of which involve instances where “[t]he order, or the statute or rule on which the order is based, is in violation of constitutional provisions on its face or as applied” and where “[t]he order is not supported by evidence that is substantial when viewed in light of the whole record before the court.” RCW 34.05.570(3)(a), (e); see also [172 Wash.2d 7] Thurston County, 164 Wash.2d at 341, 190 P.3d 38. When reviewing an administrative agency decision, we stand in the same position as the superior court. Thurston County, 164 Wash.2d at 341, 190 P.3d 38. Whether an agency order, or the statute supporting the order, violates constitutional provisions is a question of law and “[w]e review issues of law de novo.” Id.; Amunrud v. Bd. of Appeals, 158 Wash.2d 208, 215, 143 P.3d 571 (2006). An agency order is supported by substantial evidence if there is “ ‘a sufficient quantity of evidence to persuade a fair-minded person of the truth or correctness of the order.’ ” Thurston County, 164 Wash.2d at 341, 190 P.3d 38 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting City of Redmond v. Cent. Puget Sound Growth Mgmt. Hr'gs Bd., 136 Wash.2d 38, 46, 959 P.2d 1091 (1998)).

B. Administrative Proceedings and the Burden of Proof

¶ 10 The statute governing Hardee's administrative hearing requires a preponderance of the evidence to uphold the Department's action. The statutory authority governing the Department's licensing procedures may be found in chapter 43.215 RCW. It provides that, at an administrative hearing, the ALJ shall uphold the Department's decision to revoke a home child care license if a preponderance of the evidence supports the decision. RCW 43.215.300(2). Hardee challenged the Department's revocation decision at an administrative hearing. According to the legislature, the preponderance of the evidence standard was the proper evidentiary burden to place on the Department.

¶ 11 Hardee argues that constitutional due process requires a clear and convincing evidentiary standard.7 “The function of a standard of proof ... is to ‘instruct the [172 Wash.2d 8] factfinder concerning the degree of confidence our society thinks he should have in the correctness of factual conclusions for a particular type of adjudication.’ ” Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 423, 99 S.Ct. 1804, 60 L.Ed.2d 323 (1979) (quoting In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 370, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring)). The significance of the private interest at stake directly corresponds to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
56 practice notes
  • State v. Jorgenson, No. 87448–4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 21 Novembre 2013
    ...Constitution do not require separate analysis from those under the federal constitution. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 7 n. 7, 256 P.3d 339 (2011). 3.18 U.S.C. § 3142(c)(1)(B) provides, “[I]n any case that involves a minor victim under section ... 2252(a)(2) ... of......
  • Carlson v. San Juan Cnty., No. 70710–8–I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 2 Settembre 2014
    ...2, 143 P.3d 571. Therefore, the analysis under the state and federal constitutions is the same. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 7 n. 7, 256 P.3d 339 (2011). ¶ 42 Nonetheless, Carlson asserts the three-part substantive due process analysis set forth in Presbytery of S......
  • State, Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs. v. T.P. (In re Welfare of A.W.), No. 90393–0.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 19 Febbraio 2015
    ...should have in the correctness of factual conclusions for a particular type of adjudication.’ ” Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 7–8, 256 P.3d 339 (2011) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 423, 99 S.C......
  • LK Operating, LLC v. Collection Grp., LLC, No. 88132–4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 31 Luglio 2014
    ...due process that is constitutionally required, though real, is on the low end of the spectrum. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 23–24 & n. 13, 256 P.3d 339 (2011). ¶ 39 The record clearly shows LKO had sufficient notice that former RPC 1.8(a) would be at issue on appe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
56 cases
  • State v. Jorgenson, No. 87448–4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 21 Novembre 2013
    ...Constitution do not require separate analysis from those under the federal constitution. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 7 n. 7, 256 P.3d 339 (2011). 3.18 U.S.C. § 3142(c)(1)(B) provides, “[I]n any case that involves a minor victim under section ... 2252(a)(2) ........
  • Carlson v. San Juan Cnty., No. 70710–8–I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 2 Settembre 2014
    ...143 P.3d 571. Therefore, the analysis under the state and federal constitutions is the same. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 7 n. 7, 256 P.3d 339 (2011). ¶ 42 Nonetheless, Carlson asserts the three-part substantive due process analysis set forth in Presbytery of ......
  • State, Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs. v. T.P. (In re Welfare of A.W.), No. 90393–0.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 19 Febbraio 2015
    ...have in the correctness of factual conclusions for a particular type of adjudication.’ ” Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 7–8, 256 P.3d 339 (2011) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 423, 99 S.Ct. ......
  • LK Operating, LLC v. Collection Grp., LLC, No. 88132–4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 31 Luglio 2014
    ...process that is constitutionally required, though real, is on the low end of the spectrum. Hardee v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs., 172 Wash.2d 1, 23–24 & n. 13, 256 P.3d 339 (2011). ¶ 39 The record clearly shows LKO had sufficient notice that former RPC 1.8(a) would be at issue on ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT