Defendants respond that plaintiff properly was denied licensure by endorsement and that the Board exercised proper discretion in its application of the other statutory criteria. As the basis for this discretion, defendants point to a rule promulgated by the Mayor on August 5, 1988, after plaintiff's hearing had been conducted and the Board's proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions had been drafted. District of Columbia Code § 2-3305.3(a)(5), which follows §§ 2-3304.3 and 2-3304.4, requires that, in addition to the criteria examined above, each applicant must demonstrate to the Board's satisfaction that she
meets any other requirements established by the Mayor by rule to assure that the applicant has had the proper training, experience and qualifications to practice the health occupation.
Pursuant to this provision, on August 5, 1988, rules promulgated by the Director of DCRA pursuant to D.C. Code § 2-3303.2 (14) and Mayor's Order No. 86-110 were published in the District of Columbia Register and took effect. 35 Pa. D. & C. 5999. These rules included Rule 4600.4, which states as follows:
An applicant shall establish to the Board's satisfaction that the applicant possesses the appropriate skills, knowledge, judgment, and character to practice medicine.
The presence of Rule 4600.4, in addition to the D.C. Code's requirements, effectively refutes plaintiff's argument he was qualified per se under the criteria in §§ 2-3305.3 and 2-3305.4. Those provisions themselves allow the Board some discretion. Rule 4600.4, however, is decisive. That provision clearly provides the Board shall exercise its professional discretion, in addition to examining the criteria in the D.C. Code, to determine whether an applicant "possesses the appropriate skills, knowledge, judgment, and character to practice medicine." Here, the Board determined plaintiff did not.
Judicial deference to the Board of Medicine's interpretation of the Revision Act and rules is appropriate in matters of licensing, which demand "expertise and informed discretion." Joseph v. District of Columbia Bd. of Medicine, 587 A.2d 1085, 1088 (D.C. App. 1991). Thus, the Board's interpretation is to be considered binding unless it conflicts with the plain meaning of the statute or its legislative history. Lee v. District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services, 509 A.2d 100, 102 (D.C. App. 1986); Joseph v. Board of Medicine, 587 A.2d at 1088, citing Chevron, U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 81 L. Ed. 2d 694, 104 S. Ct. 2778 n.11 (1984). Deference also is appropriate unless the Board's interpretation is irrational or arbitrary and capricious. Here, the Board's interpretation of the statute was reasonable and its application rationally supported by the evidence. The Board's action accordingly was consistent with D.C. law and must stand.
The final and related consideration is whether the Board's reliance on a rule promulgated nearly one year after plaintiff filed his application and nearly three months after plaintiff's hearing violates plaintiff's due process rights. Rule 4600.4 had not been promulgated at the time of plaintiff's hearing. Nevertheless, as was conceded in open court at the Summary Judgement Hearing on November 2, 1992, plaintiff had notice of the pending rule and full opportunity to address its requirements in his post-hearing submissions to the Board. Both his Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order, and his Exceptions and Written Argument in Support Thereof to Proposed Decision of Hearing Panel, in fact, asserted plaintiff's right to a waiver of the examination requirement based on a related rule also promulgated on August 5, 1988. No due process violation therefore occurred.
Plaintiff has demonstrated neither a violation of equal protection nor a denial of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. He therefore has failed to state a federal claim under which relief may be granted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's pendent state claim similarly fails, as the Board's action was neither irrational nor ultra vires. It therefore is unnecessary to address the parties' additional claims and defenses including, inter alia, the Board's immunity and plaintiff's punitive damages claims. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted, and the Complaint is dismissed.
Dated: January 29, 1993
Louis F. Oberdorfer
ORDER - February 3, 1993, Filed
For the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum, it is this 29th day of January, 1993, hereby
ORDERED: that defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment should be, and is hereby, GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED: that plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment should be, and is hereby, DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED: that the Complaint is hereby DISMISSED.
Louis F. Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE