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When a Final and Irrevocable Surrender is Neither Final Nor Irrevocable, Maybe

In re Stephanie H. Taylor, M.D., 2015 VT 95 (July 17, 2015) is an appeal of a medical licensing matter originally decided by the Board of Medical Practice in 2005, a review and reconsideration of which was sought by the Petitioner a decade later.

Issue: Petitioner sought the reinstatement of her medical license approximately nine years after agreeing to a “final and irrevocable” surrender and further agreeing to not seek “by any means licensure, reinstatement or relicensure… regardless of circumstances or the passage of time.” Despite the strong language of the original Stipulation entered as a Consent Order with the Board of Medical Practice, it was not contested that the Petitioner had the right to bring her claim or that the Board retained the authority to modify the “permanent” surrender. Instead, the issue presented to the Court was the sufficiency of the findings made by the Board after entertaining, but ultimately declining, Petitioner’s request for reinstatement.

Holding: With a reluctant tone, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The Court held it was “constrained to agree” with Petitioner’s argument that the Board failed to make appropriate findings to support its decision to deny her request, and that a mere recitation of the parties’ arguments or evidence is not a substitute for findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Court further noted the deference it entrusts to the Board of Medical Practice depends substantially on the findings that underlie its decisions. On remand, the Court gave the Board broad latitude to consider only the existing record or, in the alternative, to reopen the entire matter for rehearing, including the circumstances leading to the original revocation of Petitioner’s license in 2005.

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