United States District Court, District of Columbia
AHMAD B. NURRIDDIN, Plaintiff,
ALEXANDER ACOSTA et al., Defendants.
TIMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ahmad B. Nurriddin, proceeding pro se, is a former employee
of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(“NASA”). He previously filed two separate
lawsuits against NASA for unlawful employment discrimination,
neither of which was ultimately successful. While pursuing
his discrimination claims, Nurriddin also sought workers'
compensation from the federal government under the Federal
Employees' Compensation Act (“FECA”), 5
U.S.C. § 8101, et seq. He filed the instant action
against the Secretary of Labor and the Director of the Office
of Personnel Management (“OPM”), in their
official capacities, bringing various claims concerning his
FECA benefits. Defendants have moved to dismiss the amended
complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or in the
alternative, for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 13.
Nurriddin has moved for preliminary injunctive relief, ECF
No. 27, and to file under seal an exhibit in support of the
preliminary-injunction motion, ECF No. 35. For the reasons
stated below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion,
dismiss the amended complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, and deny Nurriddin's motions as moot.
FECA, the United States must “pay compensation . . .
for the disability or death of an employee resulting from
personal injury sustained while in the performance of his
duty 5 U.S.C. § 8102(a). The Secretary of Labor is
authorized to administer FECA, to prescribe necessary rules
and regulations thereunder, and to delegate his powers under
FECA to Department of Labor (“DOL”) employees.
Id. §§ 8145, 8149. The Secretary has
delegated the administration of FECA to DOL's Office of
Workers' Compensation Programs (“OWCP”). 20
C.F.R. § 10.1. When a claim for compensation is
submitted, OWCP determines whether the claimant is entitled
to such compensation. See Id. § 10.125. The
claimant must, among other things, submit evidence
establishing that the claimed medical condition is
“causally related” to an alleged workplace
injury. Id. § 10.115(e).
deciding to grant or deny an award for payment of
compensation, OWCP's Director may decide to
“review” its compensation decision sua
sponte at any time, regardless of “whether there
is new evidence or information.” Id. §
10.610. Upon review, the Director may “modify, rescind,
decrease or increase compensation previously awarded, or
award compensation previously denied.” Id. For
example, the Director may terminate compensation where
“[a] partially disabled employee . . . refuses to or
neglects to work after suitable work is offered to or
arranged for him or her.” Williams v. Tapella,
658 F.Supp.2d 204, 213 n.4 (D.D.C. 2009) (quoting 20 C.F.R.
§ 10.517(a)); accord 5 U.S.C. § 8106(c).
OWCP may also suspend or terminate compensation where a
claimant “refuses to submit to, ” or
“obstructs” a medical examination. 5 U.S.C.
§ 8123(d); see also Id. § 8123(a)
(requiring claimants to submit to a medical examination
“after the injury and as frequently and at the times
and places as may be reasonably required”).
claimant disagrees with a formal decision by OWCP, such as a
denial of a claim for compensation or a termination of
existing benefits, he has three ways to challenge that
decision: “reconsideration by the district office [of
OWCP]; a hearing before an OWCP hearing representative; and
[an] appeal” to the Employees' Compensation Appeals
Board (“ECAB”). 20 C.F.R. § 10.600. “A
claimant may also challenge an ECAB decision by petitioning
for reconsideration.” Hall v. DOL, 289
F.Supp.3d 93, 99 (D.D.C. 2018) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
for purposes of this case, “[j]udicial review of
determinations under FECA [is generally] precluded under 5
U.S.C. § 8128(b).” Id.; see also
Lockheed Aircraft Corp. v. United States, 460 U.S. 190,
194 (1983) (“[Through FECA, ] employees are guaranteed
the right to receive immediate, fixed benefits, regardless of
fault and without need for litigation, but in return they
lose the right to sue the Government.”).
addition to providing for workers' compensation, FECA
provides certain “[c]ivil service retention
rights” to federal employees who have recovered from a
compensable injury. 5 U.S.C. § 8151. Depending on when
the employee recovers from his injury, the federal employer
is required either to restore the employee to “his
former or an equivalent position, ” Id. §
8151(b)(1), or to “make all reasonable efforts”
to do so, Id. § 8151(b)(2). These rights are
governed by regulations issued by OPM. Id. §
8151(b). Under these regulations, to challenge alleged
violations of these rights, an employee must file an appeal
with the Merit Systems Protection Board (“MSPB”).
See 5 C.F.R. § 353.304. The Federal Circuit “has
sole statutory authority to review most MSPB final
decisions.” Grant v. Dep't of Treasury,
272 F.Supp.3d 182, 184 (D.D.C. 2017) (citing 5 U.S.C. §
1999, Nurriddin sued NASA, alleging that from 1991 to 1996
his employer had discriminated against him based on race,
sex, and religion, created a hostile work environment, and
retaliated against him. See Nurriddin v. Goldin, 382
F.Supp.2d 79 (D.D.C. 2005), aff'd sub nom Nurriddin
v. Griffin, 222 Fed.Appx. 5 (D.C. Cir. 2007). The
district court granted summary judgment for NASA on all
claims. Id. at 109. In 2004, Nurriddin filed a
second lawsuit against NASA, advancing similar allegations
for the period from 1996 and 2004. See Nurriddin v.
Bolden, 40 F.Supp.3d 104 (D.D.C. 2014), aff'd, 818
F.3d 751 (D.C. Cir. 2016). The district court dismissed some
of his claims on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and granted summary
judgment for NASA on his remaining claims. Id. at
pursuing his employment discrimination lawsuits, Nurriddin
also sought workers' compensation from the federal
government under FECA. There is some factual overlap between
the two lawsuits, because some of Nurriddin's
discrimination allegations are also relevant to his
workers' compensation claims. See generally Nurriddin, 40
F.Supp.3d at 111-14 (summarizing facts underlying
Nurriddin's discrimination claims).
1999, Nurriddin filed a claim with OWCP seeking compensation
and other benefits for depression allegedly caused by
“work-related stress.” ECF No. 12 (“Am.
Compl.”) ¶ 3. In March 2000, OWCP denied the
claim. ECF No. 20-1 (“Nurriddin Decl.”) ¶
In June 2000, after Nurriddin requested a hearing, an OWCP
hearing representative set aside the denial. Id.
¶ 7. Six months later, in December 2000, OWCP approved
the depression claim. Id. ¶ 10. Around that
time, Nurriddin stopped going to work. ECF No. 19
(“Tritz Decl.”), Attach. J at 2.In March 2001, he
began to receive periodic disability payments and benefits.
Tritz Decl. ¶ 6.
March 2001, Nurriddin's treating physician concluded that
he could resume work, albeit with certain restrictions. Am.
Compl. ¶ 6. One such restriction was that he could not
be returned to the same work environment. See Id.
¶ 8; ECF No. 21-1, Attach. 12. In October 2001, NASA
offered to transfer Nurriddin to another position, but he
turned it down. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 15. Concluding
that Nurriddin had rejected an offer for suitable work, OWCP
decided to terminate his benefits in December 2001.
Id. ¶ 16. But before the termination went into
effect, in February 2002, OWCP vacated the decision on
sua sponte review by the Director. Id.
¶ 23; Tritz Decl. ¶ 8. The Director determined that
the job Nurriddin had been offered was in fact not suitable
for him. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 20-22.
point, Nurriddin also filed a separate claim with OWCP,
alleging that work-related stress had caused injuries to his
neck and back. Tritz Decl. ¶ 7; id, Attach. I
at 1. OWCP initially denied this claim in September 2003.
Nurriddin Decl. ¶ 29. But, after a hearing held at
Nurriddin's request, an OWCP hearing representative set
aside the denial. Id. ¶¶ 29, 33. In
January 2005, OWCP again denied the claim, and Nurriddin
subsequently filed an appeal with ECAB. Id.
¶¶ 35-36; Am. Compl. ¶ 28. At OWCP's
request, ECAB remanded the case back to OWCP to further
develop the factual record. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29-30;
Nurriddin Decl. ¶ 36.
August 2007, OWCP denied Nurriddin's neck-and-back claim
for a third time, finding that the alleged medical condition
was not caused by work-related stress. Tritz Decl., Attach. I
at 3. Moreover, in the same decision, OWCP terminated
Nurriddin's existing benefits because it found that, at
least with respect to his depression, he was now capable of
working without restriction. Id.; Nurriddin Decl.
¶ 41. Nurriddin appealed this decision to ECAB.
Nurriddin Decl. ¶ 42. In April 2008, ECAB affirmed the
denial of Nurriddin's neck-and-back claim, but overturned
the termination of benefits, on the grounds that Nurriddin
was not given proper notice and that OWCP had not adequately
proven that he no longer suffered any residual effects of his
depression. See Tritz Decl. ¶ 13; id., Attach. J at
7-10. On remand, OWCP restored his benefits, and compensated
him for the nine months he was without benefits. Id.
¶ 14. OWCP also notified Nurriddin that it would
schedule a medical examination to obtain a second opinion
regarding his depression. Id. ¶ 17; id.,
scheduled a medical examination for Nurriddin on March 25,
2013, but he failed to attend. Id. ¶ 18; see
id., Attach. N. On April 12, 2013, OWCP notified Nurriddin
that his benefits would be suspended, unless he had a valid
reason for his absence. Id., Attach. N. Nurriddin
replied that he had been busy serving as a “medical
proxy for [an] elderly relative living in New York
City.” Nurriddin Decl. ¶ 60. Although OWCP did not
accept this as a valid reason, rather than suspend his
benefits, it scheduled another examination for him on June
13, 2013. Tritz Decl. ¶ 18; ECF No. 21-1, Attachs.
22-23. Nurriddin again failed to attend. Tritz Decl. ¶
18. As a result, in a letter dated June 24, 2013, OWCP found
that Nurriddin “failed to attend, or obstructed an
examination directed by [OWCP], ” and suspended his
benefits, effective June 30, 2013. Tritz Decl., Attach. N
(citing 5 U.S.C. § 8123(d)). The letter included a
description of Nurriddin's appeal rights and a form that
he could complete and send to either OWCP or ECAB if he
sought to challenge the suspension. Id. Nurriddin
alleges that he made requests for reconsideration, a hearing,
and an appeal to ECAB, but his requests were improperly
denied. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 39-42. Ultimately, his
benefits were restored after he attended an examination with
Dr. Anthony Bardinelli on October 9, 2013. Tritz Decl. ¶
July 23, 2016, OWCP had paid Nurriddin $822, 721.07 in
compensation and $22, 681.03 for medical costs related to his
depression, all under FECA. Id. ¶ 6.
2, 2016, Nurriddin brought the instant action. ECF No.
year later, and with the Court's leave, he filed an
amended complaint. Am. Compl. The amended complaint asserts
various claims against DOL and OPM pursuant to FECA, the
Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the
Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C.
§ 551 et seq. Am. Compl. at 1. The complaint alleges
that Nurriddin's workers' compensation benefits were
improperly suspended on multiple occasions, Id.
¶¶ 19, 27, and that he was not properly restored to
work, Id. ¶¶ 25-26. The complaint also
identifies various requests from Nurriddin to DOL or OPM that
he alleges went ignored or unfulfilled, including one request
for a complete copy of his claim record, Id.
¶¶ 51-53, and another for a log of the health
insurance and life insurance deductions taken from his
monthly compensation, Id. ¶¶ 47-48.
of relief, Nurriddin requests that the Court compel
Defendants to: (1) provide “complete, accurate, and
thorough” responses to all of Nurriddin's previous
requests; (2) provide an “accounting” of his FECA
compensation, including a log of all health insurance and
life insurance deductions; (3) explain Defendants'
failure to ensure that he received “credible”
work restoration offers; (4) provide “an Advisory
Memorandum regarding the impact of the decision in
Nurriddin v. Bolden upon the efforts of agencies to
credibly restore injured employees”; (5) provide a
“cost estimate of the benefits” that Nurriddin
lost “due to the improper termination after a credible
work restoration opportunity was not presented”; and
(6) provide Nurriddin “a complete copy of his claim
file.” Id. at 8 (Conclusion).
February 10, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss
Nurriddin's amended complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, or in the alternative, for failure to state a
claim. ECF No. 13 at 1. Nurriddin then filed a motion for
preliminary injunctive relief, ...