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Coburn v. McHugh

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 30, 2014

TRENT M. COBURN, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN McHUGH, Defendant

Page 25

For TRENT M. COBURN, Plaintiff: David Patrick Sheldon, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF DAVID P. SHELDON, P.L.L.C., Washington, DC; Raymond J. Toney, LEAD ATTORNEY, THE LAW OFFICE OF RAYMOND J. TONEY, Woodland, CA.

For PETE GEREN, Honorable, Secretary of the Army, Defendant: Wayne Holden Williams, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC.

Page 26

MEMORANDUM OPINION

(December 30th, 2014) [Dkt. ##32, 37]

RICHARD J. LEON, United states District Judge.

Plaintiff Trent M. Coburn (" plaintiff" or " Coburn" ) brought this action against John M. McHugh (" Secretary" ),[1] in his official capacity as Secretary of the Army, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (" APA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., on July 7, 2009,[2] seeking judicial review of final decisions of the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records (" ABCMR" ) denying

Page 27

plaintiff's applications to correct his military records to show that he retired from the U.S. Army. See Am. Compl. ¶ 1. Now before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. See Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. [Dkt. #32]; Def.'s Cross-Mot. Summ. J. [Dkt. #37]. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings, relevant law, and the entire record in this case, the Court GRANTS defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and DENIES plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff enlisted in the Army on November 6, 1984. See Am. Compl. ¶ 16; Administrative Record (" AR" ) at 311 [Dkt. #7]. On March 24, 2000, an Article 15 non-judicial punishment hearing was convened, charging plaintiff with violating Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (" UCMJ" ). See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Support of his Motion for Summary Judgment (" Pl.'s Mem." ) at 7 [Dkt. #32-1]; AR 84-85. The charge was based on a positive drug test in early 2000, indicating that plaintiff had used marijuana. See Am. Compl. ¶ 1; AR 136-139. Plaintiff pled not-guilty to the charge, but was nonetheless found guilty by his commanding officer. See Pl.'s Mem. at 7-8; AR at 84-85.

On August 20, 2000, plaintiff was issued a negative non-commissioned officer evaluation report (" NCOER" ) based upon the failed urinalysis and the subsequent Article 15 finding of guilt. See Pl.'s Mem. at 8; AR at 86. As a result, the Army ordered plaintiff to undergo an administrative discharge board to determine whether he would be allowed to remain in the Army. See Pl.'s Mem. at 8; AR at 88. The administrative discharge board found that " the allegation that [plaintiff] wrongfully used marijuana [was] not supported by a preponderance of the evidence," and recommended that plaintiff " be retained in the [Army]." AR at 88.

Based on the administrative discharge board's findings and recommendations, plaintiff sought to have the Article 15 charge set aside. See AR 89-95. Plaintiff's attempts, however, were unsuccessful. On April 20, 2001, the Army informed plaintiff that--based on the Article 15 charge and the August 20, 2000 NCOER--he had been selected for denial of continued Army service under the Qualitative Management Program (" QMP" ), pursuant to Army regulation 635-200, Chapter 19. See Pl.'s Mem. at 9; AR at 97-99.

In June 2002, plaintiff was given an updated permanent physical profile listing plaintiff's various ailments and initiating a Medical Evaluation Board (" MEB" ). See Pl.'s Mem at 9; AR at 338. MEBs are employed " to document a Soldier's medical status and duty limitations insofar as duty is affected by the Soldier's status." See Army Reg. 635-40, Ch. 4-10. MEBs rely in substantial part on a narrative summary or " NARSUM" detailing the " history of the Soldier's illness, objective findings on examination" and the " subjective conclusions" of the treating professionals. See Army Reg. 635-40, Ch. 4-11. Although plaintiff was referred to an MEB, the record does not indicate that a NARSUM was ever completed. See Supplemental ...


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