United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
LISA R. MAURICE, Plaintiff,
PETER O'ROURKE, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs; and UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Defendants.
S. Zilly, United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment, docket no. 21, as amended, docket no. 25-1.
Having reviewed all papers filed in support of, and in
opposition to,  the motion, the Court enters the following
April 2005 until December 2015, plaintiff Lisa R. Maurice
worked for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
(“VA”) as a dental hygienist. See Order at 1
(docket no. 16). During the period 2014 - 2015, plaintiff was
supervised by Gregg Hyde, DDS, Chief of the Dental Service at
the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, and Brock Satoris, DDS,
MS, Associate Director of Dental Services. See Hyde Decl. at
¶¶ 1 & 2 (docket no. 23). On December 22, 2015,
after being interviewed by VA police,  plaintiff left
the worksite early and never returned. Id. at ¶
12. On January 7, 2016, Plaintiff applied for workers'
compensation, claiming that she had been injured on the job.
Fedderly Decl. at ¶ 4 & Ex. A (docket no. 24). In
her application, plaintiff indicated that, as a result of her
interaction with VA police, “[e]very time [she]
think[s] about going back to work [she] can't breath and
start[s] to hyperventilate, ” and that her “hands
tremble and shake uncontrollably at the thought of the VA
dental where [she] treat[s] patients with fine instruments in
their bodies.” Id. at Ex. A (docket no. 24-1
January 8, 2016, plaintiff faxed a handwritten note to Drs.
Hyde and Satoris that read:
Per my doctors [sic] orders, due to my medical condition
stemming from the Dec. 22, 2015[, ] police incident, I will
not be returning to work, until further notice from my
Ex. C to Hyde Decl. (docket no. 23-3); see also Hyde
Decl. at ¶ 14 (docket no. 23). In February 2016,
plaintiff unsuccessfully sought a dental hygienist position
in the VA's Seattle dental clinic; plaintiff had
previously been working at the VA's American Lake clinic.
See Fedderly Decl. at ¶ 5 (docket no. 24); Hyde
Decl. at ¶ 7 (docket no. 23). On March 7, 2016,
plaintiff sent an email to Drs. Hyde and Satoris that stated:
Good Morning, I am writing to let you know that I am still on
medical leave due to my condition and under medical
provider(s) care, it will be unfair for my patients not to be
able to have the required treatment at the utmost quality
care that I had always provided prior to the police incident
December 22, 2015[, ] at American Lake Dental Clinic.
I hope and pray that I can cope with this and heal. VA
support is important at this time. I will keep you up to
Ex. D to Hyde Decl. (docket no. 23-4).
15, 2016, in response to a letter from Dr. Satoris directing
plaintiff to report for duty, see Ex. C to Fedderly
Decl. (docket no. 24-3), plaintiff indicated in writing that
she was “not cleared medically to return to American
Lake Dental Clinic where [she] was a victim of trauma”
in December 2015. See Ex. D to Fedderly Decl.
(docket no. 24-4). In September 2016, plaintiff applied for
disability retirement, stating that the onset date of her
disability was December 2015. See Ex. B to Fedderly
Decl. (docket no. 24-2). In May 2018, plaintiff was deemed by
the United States Office of Personnel Management to be
“disabled from [her] position as a Dental Hygienist due
to Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, ” and
plaintiff's request for disability retirement under the
Federal Employees Retirement System was approved.
See Ex. B to Stockwell Decl. (docket no. 26-1 at
39-41; docket no. 27 at 36-38).
January 1, 2018, plaintiff commenced this action.
See Compl. (docket no. 1). On a motion brought by
defendants Peter O'Rourke, Acting Secretary of Veterans
Affairs, and the United States Department of Veterans
Affairs, the Court dismissed certain claims with prejudice
and other claims without prejudice, and granted plaintiff
leave to amend to allege a claim under the Rehabilitation Act
against solely Acting Secretary O'Rourke. See
Order (docket no. 16). Instead of complying with the
Court's ruling, plaintiff asserted in her Amended
Complaint a single claim under the Civil Service Reform Act
(“CSRA”) against both Acting Secretary
O'Rourke and the VA. Defendants now seek summary