Suspended medical school student sues National Board of Medical Examiners

By Jon Campisi | Apr 3, 2012

A medical student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who was suspended for “irregular behavior” by the Philadelphia-based National Board of Medical Examiners has filed a lawsuit against the agency at federal court in Philadelphia.

Maria Mahmood, who resides in Maryland, claims in her suit that her federal civil rights were violated when the board placed her on an allegedly “illegal” suspension for a period of three years.

The complaint, which was filed March 27 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by attorney William C. Reil, claims that Mahmood won’t be able to obtain her medical degree unless she passes the second part of a clinical knowledge examination, which she has been barred from taking because of her suspension.

According to the complaint, the suspension arose out of an alleged incident that took place in the ladies’ room of the building where the testing center was located on campus in which Mahmood is said to have lit a small amount of toilet paper on fire.

The fire was quickly extinguished and nobody was hurt, the lawsuit states.

Mahmood was arrested as a result of the incident and she is currently completing a sentence of 250 hours of community service.

Following her completion of community service, Mahmood will petition the court to have her criminal record expunged, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims that the medical exam was in no way affected by Mahmood’s actions, and that there was no evidence that anyone who was taking the first part of the exam on that day witnessed Mahmood perform “any irregular conduct or that anyone in the exam room was even aware of what plaintiff did.”

Nevertheless, Mahmood was given the three-year suspension for “irregular behavior,” even though “no irregular behavior occurred or was perceived in the examining room,” the complaint alleges.

As a result of her suspension, the suit states, Mahmood will be unable to complete her medical education in the 7-year timeframe required by the University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Chicago.

The suit says that as a result of the suspension, Mahmood has been prevented from taking her United States Medical Licensing Exam, Clinical Knowledge Part II and United States Medical Licensing Exam Clinical Skill.

The complaint further alleges that Mahmood is legally blind, and requires special equipment with which to take her licensing exam.

“The facility where plaintiff took her licensing exam did not have the proper disability accommodations under the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] for plaintiff to take her exam,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act.

Venue is proper in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the suit states, because the defendant is based in the city, even though Mahmood resides in Maryland and the alleged incident in question occurred in Illinois.

For each of the four causes of action contained within the complaint, Mahmood seeks unspecified damages arising out of the violations of her civil rights, as well as unspecified punitive damages and equitable relief.

Mahmood has also demanded a jury trial.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01544-PD.

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