Sunday, March 05, 2017

No Bivens Claim By Vet Denied Psychological Care Because of Anti-Gay Views

In Waksmundski v. Williams, (SD OH, Feb. 27, 2017), Marine Corps veteran John Waksmundski who had been receiving psychological counseling for a number of years at a VA Hospital from defendant Dr. Crystal Williams sued when Williams excluded him from a new therapy group she was forming. She also refused to serve any longer as his counselor.  Waksmundski claims that the exclusion flowed from statements he made in a group therapy session expressing his opposition, based on his Catholic religious beliefs, to gays in the military and gay marriage. The denial of care created significant psychological damage.  Waksmundski sued claiming violations of his 1st Amendment speech and religion rights as well as his equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. The court dismissed his claims, holding that the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act "is a comprehensive remedial scheme that precludes Bivens claims for damages against VA employees premised on the assertion that the employees denied, or interfered, with a party’s benefits."