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LOGAN v. DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS

August 28, 2005.

SANDRA D'ALLI LOGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD LEON, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (August 28 2005) [# 21, 22, 25]

Plaintiff, Sandra D'Alli Logan ("Logan" or "plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, filed this action against the Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA," "department," or "defendant"), alleging, inter alia, violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. ("Rehabilitation Act"), the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671 et seq. ("FTCA"), and the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq. ("FOIA"). Presently before the Court is the department's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.*fn1 After due consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and the entire record herein, defendant's motion is GRANTED. However, because it does not appear from the record that the defendants have moved for summary judgment with respect to plaintiff's FOIA claim, the action is not dismissed and the parties are ordered to file a status report as to the viability of the FOIA claim.

I. BACKGROUND

  Logan is a retired Naval Officer, who interned at the Veterans Center located in Alexandria, Virginia ("Vet Center") from approximately April, 1999 to December, 1999 while pursuing a graduate degree in psychology from Marymount University School of Education and Human Services. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 17, 74. Prior to filing the instant action, Logan had sued the department in this Court ("prior suit"), alleging that the department violated certain federal and constitutional rights during her internship at the Vet Center. Logan v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, Civ. Action No. 02-701 (RJL). This Court dismissed the prior suit on July 28, 2004. See Logan v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 357 F. Supp. 2d 149 (D.D.C. 2004). A month before the prior suit was dismissed, however, plaintiff commenced the instant action. The instant action stems, in part, from an Administrative Board Investigation ("ABI") of alleged violations of VA policies by plaintiff's internship supervisor, Robert Tecklenburg ("Tecklenburg").*fn2

  II. ANALYSIS

  Although the plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has not organized her claims into formal counts, a liberal reading of her pleadings reveals that she essentially seeks the following: (1) judicial review of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") determination that plaintiff was not discriminated against in violation of Title VII or based upon any disability; (2) monetary damages and equitable relief for alleged violations of the FTCA; (3) equitable relief relating to information related in the ABI's report following the investigation of Tecklenburg; and (4) relief for violations of the FOIA.

  A. Standard of Review

  Summary judgment should be granted when the pleadings and the record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In their opposition, the non-moving party may not rest merely upon the allegations in the complaint, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial through the means of affidavits or other documentary evidence. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Moreover, conclusory statements will not be sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment because the purpose of summary judgment is to "weed out those cases insufficiently meritorious to warrant the expense of a jury trial." Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999).

  On summary judgment, any factual assertions made in support of the motion will be accepted as true if the non-moving party fails to meet their burden to show specific facts creating a genuine issue for trial. See Neal v. Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 457 (D.C. Cir. 1992); FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); see also D.D.C. LOCAL CIV. R. 7.1(h). Pro se litigants are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Richardson v. United States, 193 F.3d 545, 548 (D.C. Cir. 1999).*fn3

  B. EEOC Claims

  Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that she was subject to discrimination based upon race, gender, and disability when (1) on February 1, 2000 she was not selected for the position of Social Worker (GS-11) at the Alexandria, Virginia Veterans Center; (2) on March 3, 2000, she was not selected for the position of Readjustment Counseling Specialist (GS-9) at the Silver Spring, Maryland Veterans Center; and (3) she was subjected to a hostile work environment during April 2000. Compl., Ex. 1.

  1. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green

  The Supreme Court set forth the framework for analyzing discrimination claims under the Rehabilitation Act and Title VII in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). See Lathram v. Snow, 336 F.3d 1085, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2003). The plaintiff has the burden of proving, by the preponderance of the evidence, a prima facie case of discrimination. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802. If the plaintiff proves the prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to "articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the [action]." Id. Lastly, should the defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff "has an opportunity to discredit the employer's explanation," Aka v. Wash. Hosp. Ctr., 156 F.3d 1284, 1288 (D.C. Cir. 1998), by showing the defendant's reasons were a pretext for discrimination, see Fischbach v. D.C. Dep't of Corr., 86 ...


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