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Smith v. United States Dep't of Veterans Affairs

January 13, 2009

RALPH SMITH PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, G.V. SONNY MONTGOMERY VA MEDICAL CENTER, AND JOHN DOES 1-25 DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tom S. Lee United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This cause is before the court on the motion of defendants United States Department of Veterans Affairs and G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Plaintiff Ralph Smith has responded to the motion, and the court, having considered the memoranda of authorities, together with attachments, submitted by the parties, concludes that defendants United States Department of Veterans Affairs and G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center should be dismissed as defendants. However, the court is further of the opinion that the United States should respond and show cause why it should not be substituted as the defendant herein.

According to the complaint in this cause, plaintiff Ralph Smith, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1995 at the VA Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he sought and received treatment for his PTSD. In January 2004, because of its proximity to his home, plaintiff transferred his treatment to the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, where he participated in a residential treatment program, under the direction of his psychiatrist, Dr. Liberto. Plaintiff's psychiatric treatment at the Jackson VA included medications, therapy sessions and classes, one of which was a therapy writing class conducted by Ann Tandy, a nurse manager at the facility. Plaintiff alleges that while he was still in the residential treatment program, Ann Tandy began an intimate and sexual relationship with him which lasted for a number of months. After the affair ended in December 2004, plaintiff reported the affair to a social worker at the hospital, which prompted an investigation. Plaintiff alleges that this relationship with Tandy caused him to suffer a setback in his medical treatment and resulted in his being hospitalized for increased depression and anxiety.

In June 2006, plaintiff filed an administrative claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and on January 23, 2007, after six months passed with no decision on his claim, plaintiff filed the present action against the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center (VA Medical Center) seeking to recover damages for medical negligence, medical malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, negligent supervision, negligent training, negligent hiring and gross negligence. All of plaintiff's claims are brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346 et seq. Section 2679(a) of the FTCA provides:

The authority of any federal agency to sue and be sued in its own name shall not be construed to authorize suits against such federal agency on claims which are cognizable under section 1346(b) of this title, and the remedies provided by this ...


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