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DAIGLE v. WEST

September 30, 2002

ROGER G. DAIGLE, PLAINTIFF,
V.
E. TOGO WEST, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frederick J. Scullin, Chief District Judge

  MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Roger G. Daigle commenced the lead case in this consolidated action on January 31, 2000. See Dkt. No. 1 in Daigle v. West, 5:00-CV-0189 (FJS) (DEP) ("00-CV-0189"). That complaint asserted numerous causes of action against multiple defendants, many of whom were employed at one time, or are currently employees, at the Syracuse Veterans Administration Hospital ("VA Hospital").

Plaintiff thereafter filed an amended complaint in that case pursuant to this Court's Order filed March 23, 2000 (00-CV-0189 at Dkt. No. 3), to which Defendants filed an answer. See id. at Dkt. No. 38.

On July 5, 2000, Plaintiff filed another lawsuit against Togo West, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other Defendants. See Daigle v. West, 5:00-CV-1055 (FJS) (DEP) ("00-CV-1055"), Dkt. No. 1.*fn1 By Order filed October 20, 2000, Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles consolidated 00-CV-1055 with 00-CV-0189, designating 00-CV-1055 as the member case.*fn2 See Dkt. No. 28 in 00-CV-1055.

On March 13, 2001, Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint filed in 00-CV-0189 and the complaint filed in 00-CV-1055 as against all Defendants with the exception of Secretary West. See Dkt. Nos. 53-55. Plaintiff opposed the motion to dismiss, see Dkt. Nos. 59 and 60, and filed a separate motion to amend his amended complaint in 00-CV-0189. See Dkt. Nos. 57-58. In response to Plaintiff's motion to amend, Defendants cross-moved to dismiss, in its entirety, Daigle's amended complaint in 00-CV-0189. See Dkt. Nos. 62-64. Plaintiff opposed Defendants' cross-motion, see Dkt. Nos. 65-66; Defendants filed a reply to such opposition. See Dkt. No. 67.

On June 15, 2001, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint filed in 00-CV-1055. See Dkt. Nos. 68-69. Defendants opposed that motion, see Dkt. No. 74; Plaintiff filed a reply to that opposition. See Dkt. No. 75.

On March 28, 2002, this Court issued a Memorandum-Decision and Order relating to such motions. See Dkt. No. 104 ("March, 2002 Order"). In that Order, the Court granted in part Defendants' motions to dismiss. Specifically, as to the amended complaint filed in 00-CV-0189, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss causes of action one through eight as against all Defendants except Secretary West and dismissed all of the remaining claims in the amended complaint filed in 00-CV-0189. See March, 2002 Order at 7-10. Additionally, this Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint filed in 00-CV-1055 as against all Defendants except Secretary West. See id. at 10-11.*fn3

Before this Court issued its March, 2002 Order, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment as to the complaint filed in 00-CV-1055. See Dkt. No. 84. Subsequent to the March, 2002 Order, Plaintiff submitted papers in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, see Dkt. Nos. 106-108, to which Defendant filed his reply. See Dkt. No. 110.*fn4

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working as a medical clerk for the VA Hospital in its surgical intensive care unit ("SICU") in May, 1991.*fn5 At the time, Plaintiff was fifty years old and held a Master's Degree in Business Administration. In the summer of 1991, Plaintiff began working with Eva Homeyer, a registered nurse in the SICU. Plaintiff alleges that from that time until about October, 1992, Homeyer sexually harassed him. As a result, on December 1, 1992, Plaintiff filed a written complaint of employment discrimination, attributable to his sex, with the Veterans Administration, which was designated as case no. 93-1620.*fn6

Equal Employment Opportunity Investigator Jesse Raymond began investigating Plaintiff's claim of harassment in June 1993, and on August 9, 1993, he issued his report regarding Plaintiff's claims. See Investigative Summary and Analysis of Investigator Raymond, dated August 9, 1993, Dkt. No. 88 at Exhibit "B-1a."*fn7 In that report, Investigator Raymond found that although Plaintiff established a prima facie case of sexual harassment/discrimination, his case was adequately rebutted by other employees of the VA Hospital. See id. Investigator Raymond concluded that

[i]t appears that Eva Homeyer did harass the complainant because of him being different and that he was unable to perform and fit-in as she would have preferred. But, it was not due to him being male. However, the allegations failed to be proven with a preponderance of evidence worthy of a positive recommendation. Therefore, I recommend a finding of no discrimination.

See id. at Part IV.

On September 11, 1993, Plaintiff requested a hearing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") regarding his complaint. Thereafter, Plaintiff and Mark Antinelli, the assistant personnel officer for the VA Hospital, met to discuss the possibility of reaching a settlement relating to Plaintiff's claims. These discussions culminated in a Settlement Agreement between Plaintiff and the VA Hospital regarding case no. 93-1620.*fn8 See Complaint at Exhibit "A" ("Settlement Agreement"). Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, which was executed on and effective as of December 10, 1993, the parties agreed to settle EEO Complaint 93-1620 in exchange for the consideration set forth in the Settlement Agreement.

On July 20, 1995, Plaintiff filed a written request to re-open EEO Complaint 93-1620 ("July, 1995 request to re-open"). In that request, Plaintiff claimed that the Settlement Agreement had been breached because (1) he was wrongfully forced to undergo "medical and psychiatric exams" by management at the VA Hospital;*fn9 (2) he had been subjected to acts of intimidation; harassment and abuse; (3) he and patients of the VA Hospital were subjected to offensive names, jokes and ridicule; (4) his car had been vandalized; (5) co-workers had "gone through [his] personal effects;" and (6) his new coat had been thrown in the trash. See Complaint at Exhibit "G."*fn10

On July 9, 1996, Plaintiff appealed that decision to the EEOC. See Complaint at Exhibit "E." On October 10, 1997, the EEOC issued a decision in which it affirmed the DVA's finding that the Settlement Agreement had not been breached. See id. at Exhibit "D." That decision also noted that the allegations of discrimination that Plaintiff cited in support of his request to re-open EEO Complaint 93-1620 all occurred subsequent to the execution of the Settlement Agreement and were therefore properly considered as separate complaints of discrimination under 29 C.F.R. § 1614.106. See Complaint at Exhibit "D." Plaintiff filed a request for reconsideration of that decision, see id. at Exhibit "C;" however, the EEOC denied that request on March 30, 2000. See id. at Exhibit "B." In that decision, the EEOC notified Plaintiff of his right to file a civil action in this District within ninety days of the date Plaintiff received the EEOC's decision.

In his complaint filed in 00-CV-1055, Plaintiff argues, inter alia, that the Settlement Agreement is unenforceable because he was pressured and coerced into entering into such agreement and, alternatively, that the Settlement Agreement should be enforced and this Court find that it was breached by the VA Hospital. See Complaint at ¶¶ 3, 9, 14-15.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Exhaustion of Administrative ...


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