The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports Elizabeth Feaster, 42, won a major victory when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that she should be allowed to sue the Florida Board of Nursing for requiring her to participate in a program designed for nurse substance abusers.

The News Journal reported:

Feaster had filed suit in Duval County circuit court in July 2001 against the Florida Department of Health charging it violated her rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While a student in the DBCC nursing program, Feaster required special accommodations under the Disabilities Act because she suffered a brain injury in 1998 that interfered with her ability to concentrate on academic examinations.

Despite her disability, she graduated from the nursing program with honors.

But when Feaster applied to the state Board of Nursing for licensure, she was told she would have to participate in the Intervention Program for Nurses — a program for “impaired practitioners” — before she would be allowed to take the nursing board exam, because of her disability.

The program is described on the state Department of Health Web site as “a program that provides close monitoring of nurses who are unsafe to practice due to impairment as a result of misuse or abuse of alcohol or drugs, or both, or due to a mental of physical condition which could affect the licensee’s ability to practice with skill and safety.”

Following nearly three years of litigation, Feaster now has won the right to challenge that placement.

The Florida Attorney General defended the state nursing board and opposed Feaster’s lawsuit, claiming the state was immune to such a suit. The circuit court agreed with the Attorney General and dismissed Feaster’s lawsuit. This brought a series of appeals ending when the nation’s highest court ruled the state’s immunity did not apply in cases like this.

Ms. Feaster’s attorney told the paper ” [Elizabeth] will now have her opportunity to be heard in the courts for enforcement of her rights under Title II of the ADA, all we wanted from the beginning was for Elizabeth to have her day in court.”

Note: The lawyers of Stark and Stark did not represent any of the parties to this case but are reporting on the matter as part of the firm’s efforts to be a source of information to brain injured individuals.