Psychologist Loses Fight Over Disciplinary Action

     (CN) – Flexing his vocabulary, the 1st Circuit’s Judge Bruce Selya dismissed a psychologist’s “asseverational array” of reasons she should not have been disciplined for her report on a 7-year-old boy with behavioral problems.

     The Massachusetts licensing board said Dr. L. Lynn LeSeuer exceeded her authority in compiling a report on the boy, who came from a broken home. His parents had a contentious relationship after their divorce, and LeSeuer’s report added fuel to the fire.
     The boy’s mother had lodged a complaint with the board, and the board placed LeSeuer on probation for two years.
     LeSeuer fought the disciplinary action in state court, but lost at the trial and appellate levels. She never appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
     But she filed a similar case in federal court, adding the boy’s father, Joseph Coggeshall, as a co-plaintiff and board members as defendants.
     The district court dismissed the case for lack of standing and jurisdiction, and the Boston-based appeals court declined to revive the case.
     Selya rejected LeSeuer’s “salmagundi” of reasons for setting aside the board’s order.
     He said the board and its members are immune from the claims for monetary damages, and the remaining claims are best decided in state courts. When LeSeuer filed the federal action, her claims were still pending before the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
     The three-judge panel also rejected Coggeshall’s claim that LeSeuer and other psychologists have a right to be free from the “chilling effects” of professional discipline.
     “But this horse has already left the barn,” Selya wrote. He said Coggeshall can’t assert the First Amendment rights of a third party.
     Selya, who is known for peppering his rulings with obscure, often arcane words, included such linguistic gems as “peradventure,” “supererogatory” and “ukase” in his 18-page ruling.

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