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A Better Partnership
February 27, 2013

COA rules that non-compliance with statutory time limit did not warrant dismissal of disciplinary proceeding

Though the board of veterinary medicine completed its disciplinary proceeding outside the statutory one-year time limit, the Court of Appeals in Department of Community Health v. Anderson held that this statutory requirement conveyed no substantive rights on the disciplined veterinarian and failure to comply with it did not warrant dismissal of the disciplinary action. The Court also reaffirmed that an agency's credibility determinations are virtually unreviewable.

The Respondent-veterinarian appealed the Michigan board of veterinary medicine disciplinary subcommittee's order finding that she was negligent when performing a caesarian section and spay procedure on a dog. Although the Respondent testified that the procedure was done properly, a veterinarian who performed exploratory surgery on the dog testified otherwise. The subcommittee accepted this latter version of facts and placed the Respondent on probation for two years, required her to complete 10 hours of continuing education and assessed a $1,000 fine.

The Court of Appeals affirmed. It held that administrative findings of facts and conclusions of law must be given deference particularly when based on credibility determinations. The agency was well within its administrative expertise when it found the second veterinarian to be more credible. The Court of Appeals also held that the language in MCL 333.16237(5), requiring that the 'final disciplinary subcommittee action shall be completed within 1 year after the department initiates an investigation' was only as a guideline for the disciplinary system and did not confer the substantive right upon Respondent to claim the administrative proceedings did not comply with the law.

 

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