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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Scant Court Relief for Besmirched Obama Appointee

(CN) - An attempt to masquerade barred libel claims in a 127-page, "Faulknerian" lawsuit against the Labor Department stoked a federal judge to fury Monday.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg mostly unraveled Raymond Jefferson's lawsuit but his ruling leaves intact a single due-process claim against the government.

Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, Jefferson served two years as assistant secretary of the Labor Department for VETS, short for Veterans' Employment and Training Services, before he resigned on July 26, 2011.

One day later, the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General caused a media firestorm by publicizing a report that implied Jefferson ha pressured a subordinate to steer contracts.

Though Jefferson says the report relied entirely on a disgruntled subordinate's "feelings" that he had pressured her, and has unfairly damaged his reputation, Judge Boasberg said opportunities for relief are scarce since the government is immune from tort liability.

Boasberg said Jefferson had this in mind when he "concocted a number of other causes of action" for his lawsuit against the government and various officials

"While he may have reason to feel knocked down and mistreated, he has, for the most part, failed to identify a colorable legal theory to support his suit," the 45-page judgment states.

Boasberg slammed Jefferson's filing for its "Faulknerian sense of time and consistent failure to assign even approximate dates to critical facts."

After sifting through the morass of allegations, the judge permitted only Jefferson's claim that his superiors trampled the due-process clause by not giving him an opportunity to rebut the report's conclusions.

"Although plaintiff tries mightily to extract a pound of flesh for this salvo of slights, his remedies will be far more limited," the ruling states. "The due process clause may ultimately help him to mend some of his wounds, but it is not a cure-all for any and all harm inflicted at the hands of the government."

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