United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL
MOTION TO DISMISS
DENNIS SAYLOR, IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter arises out of a long-standing dispute between a former
medical resident and a medical school. Plaintiff Jeffrey
Isaacs has brought suit against the Department of Education
alleging, among other things, that its Office for Civil
Rights (“OCR”) failed to investigate the
circumstances surrounding his termination from
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Isaacs
has asserted two claims under the Administrative Procedure
Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). In Count
1, he contends that OCR's decision to deny his appeal to
investigate his administrative complaint was an
“arbitrary and capricious” agency action in
violation of the APA. In Count 2, he contends that the Office
of Federal Student Aid's decision to deny his appeal to
discharge more than $200, 000 in student loan debt was
similarly “arbitrary and capricious.”
has moved to dismiss Count 1 on the grounds of sovereign
immunity and failure to state a claim pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the
Court finds that sovereign immunity has not been waived, and
the motion will be granted.
facts are set forth as described in the amended complaint and
public record. Because the government has only moved to
dismiss Count 1 of the amended complaint, this memorandum and
order will not address factual allegations solely related to
plaintiff's claim concerning the Office of Federal
Jeffrey Isaacs is a resident of Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶
14). In 1997, while he was an undergraduate at Dartmouth
College, he suffered a head injury because of an incident
with an intoxicated student. (Id. ¶ 18). The
head injury caused long-lasting effects, including
“post-concussion syndrome, ” and hindered his
ability to finish his pre-med course requirements.
(Id.). He dropped several difficult classes and
ultimately obtained a degree in computer science.
(Id.). He went on to attend the Wharton School at
the University of Pennsylvania and received a Masters in
Business Administration there. (Id. ¶¶ 14,
19). By 2005, he had completed the pre-med course
requirements that he did not finish at Dartmouth.
(Id. ¶ 19).
2005, Isaacs enrolled at the Keck School of Medicine at the
University of Southern California. (Id. ¶ 20).
However, during his first year, there was what he calls
“[a]n unfortunate series of circumstances.”
(Id.). The complaint states that there was an
allegation of unprofessionalism brought by one of his
classmates. (Id.). Keck suspended Isaacs in February
2006, and ultimately expelled him. See In re: Jeffrey D.
Isaacs, M.D., N.H. Bd. of Med., Docket No. 13-07, (Mar.
11, 2014). Isaacs subsequently sued Keck, and
ultimately two settlements were reached. (Compl. ¶ 21).
The first settlement, which was agreed to in September 2007,
sealed certain school records relating to Isaacs.
(Id.). The second settlement, which was entered into
in 2008, “discharge[d] all contracts and
agreements” relating to his time at Keck.
order to pursue a medical degree, Isaacs enrolled in the
American University of the Caribbean Medical School.
(Id. ¶ 22). He received a degree from that
institution in 2010. (Id.). He received more than
$200, 000 in federal student aid to pay for his tuition.
(Id.). He took the United States Medical Licensing
Examination, and his score “exceeded that of the
average neurosurgeon, his desired specialty.”
graduating, Isaacs began a surgical program residency at the
University of Arizona. (Id. ¶ 23). By his third
day, supervisors described him as “far behind his
peers” and lacking “technical ability.”
(Id.). The complaint alleges that Isaacs had
“perfectly completed the only procedure, a
sub-cuticular suture, that he had been required to
perform.” (Id.). He resigned from the
residency after approximately six weeks. (Id.).
then received a psychiatric residency position at
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire in 2011.
(Id. ¶ 24). In his application, he
“omitted both his attendance at [Keck] and his aborted
residency at [the University of Arizona].” Isaacs
v. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Med. Ctr., 2014 WL 1572559, at *2
(D.N.H. Apr. 18, 2014) (granting summary judgment to
defendants). The complaint alleges that immediately
upon his arrival at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, he was
“subject to mistreatment and abuse.”
(Compl. ¶ 25). Specifically, it alleges that he
was ordered to “perform two unnecessary prostate
examinations” and was treated differently from other
residents. (Id.). Nevertheless, according to the
complaint, he received “predominately positive reviews
during [his] psychiatry rotations.” (Id.
appears that relatively early in his tenure at
Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Isaacs was placed on probation.
(Id.). “[T]he stress of being placed on
probation, ” coupled with “criticism from
superiors” “led to the development of significant
health problems.” (Id.). The complaint alleges
that he developed a severe sleep disorder and requested
medical leave to recuperate. (Id. ¶ 27).
However, his supervisors denied his request for leave.
(Id.). The complaint alleges that the sleep disorder
also stemmed from his head injury that he suffered at
Dartmouth College in 1997. (Id. ¶ 29).
January 2012, a supervisor discovered that Isaacs had
previously been a resident at the University of Arizona.
(Id. ¶ 30). A confrontation with the supervisor
led to Isaacs suffering a “psychological crisis.”
(Id.). On March 19, 2012, Dartmouth-Hitchcock issued
a letter to Isaacs stating that he was being terminated for
his failure to disclose his record at Keck and his Arizona
residency. (Id. ¶ 31). Isaacs acknowledges that
he never disclosed his record at Keck, but contends that he
did so because he believed his prior litigation sealed all
documents relating to his attendance there. (Id.
¶ 44). The complaint alleges that he has since applied
for a residency at “nearly every hospital in the
country, ” but that he has been denied each time.
(Id. ¶ 47).
Hampshire Board of Medicine revoked Isaacs's medical
license and found that his termination from
Dartmouth-Hitchcock was appropriate because he concealed
material information in his residency application. See In
re: Jeffrey D. Isaacs, M.D., at 8. The Board of Medicine
further reprimanded him for not only failing to provide any
“credible evidence” in support of his position,
but also “knowingly” making a false statement.
Id. at 8-9.
alleges that he “repeatedly attempted to have Dartmouth
investigate his claims” that he was terminated
“without any of the administrative procedures
established by Dartmouth policies.” (Compl.
¶¶ 31-32). The complaint alleges that
Dartmouth-Hitchcock declined to investigate his claims for
two years. (Id. ¶ 32). Frustrated with what he
perceived to be “obfuscations and denials, ”
Isaacs filed two suits pro se: the first was in the
District of New Hampshire, and the second was in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶¶
32-33). Both ...