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Wang v. Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates

September 17, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge


On April 15, 2005, Michael J. Wang ("Wang" or "Plaintiff") filed a Complaint against the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates ("ECFMG" or "Defendant") alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986, the New York Executive Law, and state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and slander. On February 23, 2006, this Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff appealed, and on March 28, 2007, the Second Circuit affirmed this Court's Order in part and reversed in part. After further motion practice, this Court determined that Plaintiff's Section 1981 and state law claims survived Defendant's motion to dismiss. Pending before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's remaining claims. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.


The following facts are taken from the Parties' 56.1 Statement, Counter-Statement and the exhibits thereto.

Plaintiff is of Asian descent born in the People's Republic of China. (Def's. R. 56.1 Statement ("Def's. Stmt.") ¶ 1.) Defendant is a not-for-profit organization which utilizes a certification program to assess whether foreign medical graduates are qualified to enter medical residency and/or fellowship programs in the United States. (Id. ¶ 2.) To be eligible for certification, Plaintiff had to pass two steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination ("USMLE") and an English language examination. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Applicants applying for certification are informed of the ramifications of engaging in "irregular behavior," defined as all actions or attempted actions on the part of applicants or examinees that would or could subvert the examination, certification, or other processes of ECFMG. Examples include, but are not limited to, failing to comply with a USMLE or ECFMG policy, procedure and/or rule; falsification of information on applications, submissions of any falsified or altered document to ECFMG, or submission of any falsified or altered ECFMG document to other entities or individuals. (Id. ¶ 7.) Applicants are further advised that engagement in irregular behavior may result in sanctions, such as revocation of their ECFMG certificate. (Id. ¶ 8.)

Wang applied in 1994 to take the USMLE examination. (Id. ¶ 9.) On September 22 and 23, 1994, Wang took Step 1 and received a failing score of 60/126. (Id. ¶ 10.) On March 1 and 2, 1995, Wang took Step 2 and received failing score of 56/78. (Id. ¶ 11.) Wang again took Step 1 in June of 1995, and again received a failing score. (Id. ¶ 12.) In September of 1995, Wang took Step 1 for a third time, and again received a failing score. (Id. ¶ 13.) On March 5 and 6, 1996, Wang took and again failed Step 2. (Id. ¶ 14.) Wang took Step 1 for a fourth time in June of 1996, for a fifth time in October of 1996, and a sixth time in June of 1997. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 17, 19.) Wang failed Step 2 two more times, in August of 1996 and March of 1997. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 18.) Wang submitted an application to ECFMG with each attempt to pass Step 1 and Step 2. (Id. ¶ 22.)

Wang passed Step 1 on his seventh try in October of 1997, with a passing score of 79/190, and passed Step 2 on the fifth try in August of 1997, with a passing score of 78/183. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 21.) On June 8, 1998, Wang received an ECFMG certificate for having passed Steps 1 and 2 of the USMLE and the English language exam. (Id. ¶ 23.)

In 1999, Wang began his post-graduate training in general surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in New York City. (Id. ¶ 25.) From July 2000 to June 2001, Wang completed a second year of residency training at the State University of New York Health Center at Stony Brook ("SUNY). (Id. ¶ 26.) On December 4, 2001, SUNY discharged Plaintiff during his third year of residency. (Id. ¶ 27.)

In November of 2001, ECFMG learned from Joyce Klein (nee Manolakes), Director of SUNY's Medical/House Staff Services Department, that SUNY was investigating discrepancies between the credentials Wang submitted to SUNY in his application for a residency position and those in ECFMG's records. (Id. ¶ 30.) The discrepancies included differences in Wang's date of birth and date of medical school graduation. (Id.)

During its investigation into these discrepancies, Defendant received a letter from Wang asking Defendant to change its records to reflect Plaintiff's date of birth as November 15, 1967, previously noted as November 15, 1957, and change his year of graduation as 1992, previously noted as 1982. (Id. ¶¶ 34, 35.) In response to this letter, Defendant wrote to Plaintiff and asked him to explain why he had previously reported an inconsistent date of birth and year of graduation on his twelve prior ECFMG applications. (Id. ¶ 36.) On January 2, 2002, Wang wrote to Defendant and explained that his first application contained incorrect information, and thereafter, he copied the same incorrect information because he was worried that he would not be able to sit for the examinations if he provided information that differed from his first application. (Id. ¶ 37.) On December 12, 2001, Defendant received a letter from Wang asking Defendant not to disclose Plaintiff's USMLE score or the number of times he attempted to pass the test to any institution or individual. (Id. ¶ 39.)

On November 4, 2002, Wang filed a Complaint in this Court against SUNY and other entities. Wang v. State of New York Health Sciences Center at Stony Brook, et al., No. 02-CV-5840 (JS)(ARL). Plaintiff's allegations against SUNY in that case were similar to the current allegations against ECFMG. On February 23, 2006, this Court granted summary judgment for SUNY and dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims against it. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a mandate on May 15, 2007, affirming this Court's dismissal.

On September 15, 2003 Toni Logue, Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York, informed ECFMG that Wang had submitted USMLE scores to SUNY reflecting scores of 85/220 on the Step 1 and Step 2 exams. (Id. ¶ 41.) Because these scores were higher than those actually earned by Wang, Defendant conducted an investigation to determine whether Plaintiff altered his reports. (Id. ¶ 42.)

On November 20 and December 8, 2003, Defendant wrote to Wang and asked him to provide an explanation within fifteen days as to why his official score reports differed from the score reports Plaintiff submitted to SUNY. (Id. ¶ 44.) Wang did not respond. (Id. ¶ 45.) On March 4, 2003, Defendant sent a letter to Wang informing him that the matter would be referred to the ECFMG Medical Education Credentials Committee (the "Credentials Committee") at its May 24, 2004 meeting. (Id. ¶ 46.) The letter informed Plaintiff that he must advise Defendant by March 29, 2004, if he wished to appear personally before the ...

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