Koller v. Pierce County Dept. of Human Services, 94-0943-FT

Decision Date09 August 1994
Docket NumberNo. 94-0943-FT,94-0943-FT
Citation522 N.W.2d 240,187 Wis.2d 1
PartiesMary E. KOLLER, Appellant-Appellant, v. PIERCE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Respondent-Respondent. d ]
CourtWisconsin Court of Appeals

Before CANE, P.J., and LaROCQUE and MYSE, JJ.

MYSE, Judge.

Mary Koller appeals a trial court order affirming the Pierce County Department of Human Services' denial of her application for general relief benefits. 1 Koller contends that the County erred by concluding that: (1) § 49.02(5)(c)1m, STATS., requires the notice of emergency treatment to be signed by the attending/admitting physician, (2) § 49.02(5)(c)2g, STATS., requires the form relating to a patient's residence to be notarized and (3) a statement that information concerning the probable duration of necessary treatment and hospitalization is not available is insufficient under § 49.02(5)(c)1m. We conclude that: (1) § 49.02(5)(c)1m does not require the notice of emergency treatment to be signed by the attending/admitting physician, (2) § 49.02(5)(c)2g does not require the form relating to a patient's residence to be notarized and (3) § 49.02(5)(c) 1m should not be construed such that an otherwise eligible person is deprived of general assistance based on a health care provider's inability to submit a statement concerning the probable duration of necessary treatment and hospitalization because the necessary information is unavailable. We therefore reverse the order.

The relevant facts are undisputed. Koller was admitted to United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, for treatment of a cystic mass. United Hospital submitted a notification of emergency/inpatient treatment form to the County on Koller's behalf stating that Koller "required immediate, indispensable medical treatment to alleviate an immediate threat to life and/or health.... In my opinion the probable duration of necessary treatment and hospitalization to alleviate the emergency condition is N/A days." The name of the attending/admitting physician was typed above the line on the form for the signature of the attending/admitting physician, with "Signature n/a" following the name. Testimony at the hearing revealed that "N/A" meant "not available." Koller also completed a form providing her personal information including her residence and financial eligibility information. Above the space for her signature are the words "I swear and affirm that the information given above is true and complete to my knowledge and belief." The space provided on the form for notarization was not completed.

The County denied Koller general relief based on its conclusions that § 49.02(5)(c), STATS., required the physician's signature and a specific statement of the probable duration of treatment on the notice of emergency treatment and notarization of the residency and financial eligibility form. Because the forms submitted to the County lacked these prerequisites, the County concluded that Koller had not complied with § 49.02(5)(c) and was thus ineligible for general relief. The trial court affirmed the County's decision.

Whether United Hospital complied with the requirements of § 49.02(5)(c), STATS., involves the interpretation and application of a statute to undisputed facts. This issue presents a question of law that we review independently of the trial court's determinations. Zimmerman v. DHSS, 169 Wis.2d 498, 504, 485 N.W.2d 290, 293 (Ct.App.1992).

The State is entitled to impose such conditions on general assistance payments as it deems appropriate, as long as those conditions pass constitutional muster. See Jones v. Milwaukee County, 168 Wis.2d 892, 904-05, 485 N.W.2d 21, 27 (1992). Failure to comply with the statutory prerequisites for general assistance payments will result in a proper denial of the requested payments. Here, there is no question that Koller is eligible for the general relief nor, for the purpose of this appeal, is there any dispute concerning the necessity of the medical treatment provided by United Hospital. Further, there is no question that all forms were submitted within the time proscribed. The sole issue presented for determination is whether the forms were completed in compliance with the statutory requirement.

The County contends that § 49.02(5)(c)1m, STATS., requires the notice of emergency treatment to be signed by the attending/admitting physician. The relevant portion of § 49.02(5)(c)1m provides, "Each written notice provided under this subdivision shall also include a written statement by the attending physician certifying the need for the emergency medical treatment or hospitalization...." (Emphasis added.) The statute's plain language does not require the physician to sign his written statement certifying the need for emergency medical treatment or hospitalization; it only requires that the physician submit a written statement. We therefore conclude that as long as the notice contains a physician's written statement that certifies the need for emergency medical treatment or hospitalization, this statutory requirement has been met.

The County next contends that § 49.02(5)(c)2g, STATS., requires the form relating to a patient's residence to be notarized. The County notes that the form prepared by the State provides a space for notarization of the signature. The relevant portion of § 49.02(5)(c)2g provides, "[Each form provided under this subdivision] shall also include a sworn statement of facts relating to the patient's residence...." (Emphasis added.) The statute's plain language does not require that the form be notarized; it only requires that the form contain a sworn statement as to the patient's residence. Here, the form contains a statement above the patient's signature that the patient "swear[s] and affirm[s] that the information given above is true and complete to my knowledge and belief." 2 While the form contains a place for notarization, this portion of the form is not required by the language of § 49.02(5)(c)2g.

The County here does not contend that Koller did not sign her statement under oath in violation...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Kellner v. Christian
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court
    • November 21, 1995
    ...665, 666 (Ky.1953). Wisconsin courts recognize the distinction between an oath and an acknowledgment. In Koller v. Pierce County Dep't of Human Services, 187 Wis.2d 1, 522 N.W.2d 240 (Ct.Appeals 1994), the court of appeals held that a sworn statement and a notarization are not synonymous; e......
  • Newkirk v. DOT, 98-2966.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Court of Appeals
    • June 17, 1999
    ...and an oath, the Kellner court quoted a passage from an earlier court of appeals case, Koller v. Pierce County Dep't of Human Services, 187 Wis. 2d 1, 522 N.W.2d 240 (Ct. App. 1994), in which the following language appears: "A statement may be sworn without being notarized," Keller, 197 Wis......

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