Business Law

Oduyale v. California State Board of Pharmacy (2019) 41 Cal.App.5th 101

Pharmacy Board not required to list and reject every lesser sanction before revoking license.

The Board of Pharmacy filed an accusation against Solomon Oduyale, a licensed pharmacist, to revoke or suspend his license. The accusation was based on 16 causes for discipline ranging from possession of controlled substances without proper labeling to failure to maintain accurate and complete pharmacy records. After a hearing, the Board adopted an ALJ’s decision proposing revocation of Oduyale’s license and a stay of the revocation with probation for three years. Almost a decade later, the Board filed another accusation against Oduyale focused on additional record-keeping violations. After the Board revoked Oduyale’s license, he sought to set aside the revocation via writ of mandate. The trial court found that the Board had abused its discretion by failing to analyze alternative sanctions and remanded to allow the Board to reconsider why lesser punishments would not protect the public. Both parties appealed.

The Court of Appeal reversed and reinstated the Board’s revocation decision. The trial court erred by directing the Board to provide written reasons for not imposing each penalty short of revocation. Once the trial court determined that the Board’s findings were supported by the weight of the evidence (at least for certain charges), the trial court needed to assess whether the Board’s findings “bridged the gap” between the evidence and its decision. The Board was not obliged to outline every reason it declined to impose a lesser form of discipline; the Board was only required to justify its penalty with statements having a factual and legal basis. The appellate court found the Board’s decision satisfied this standard, since the Board had reviewed the entire record, listed and evaluated each cause for discipline, and explained why Oduyale’s violations were sufficient to warrant revocation of his license. Finally, even though Oduyale was being punished only for record-keeping violations, their frequency warranted increased punishment. The court therefore rejected Oduyale’s cross-appeal asserting the Board should be required to impose a lesser penalty.

The bulletin describing the Court of Appeal’s decision was originally prepared for the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys (CSHA) by H. Thomas Watson and Peder K. Batalden, Horvitz & Levy LLP, and is republished with permission. For more information regarding this bulletin, please contact H. Thomas Watson, Horvitz & Levy LLP, at 818-995-0800 or htwatson@horvitzlevy.com.

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