Sunnen v. NYS Department of Health
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
District Judge Colleen McMahon
Sunnen was a New York state licensed physician who specialized in psychiatry and neurology. In 1996, the state Department of Health initiated proceedings against him on charges of professional misconduct. Sunnen's medical license was revoked when a hearing committee found that he committed multiple serious acts of professional misconduct, as he was negligent, engaged in sexual conduct with a patient, was morally unfit, and failed to maintain adequate records. Sunnen later brought an Article 78 proceeding and the Court of Appeals denied his request for leave to appeal. Sunnen then began another Article 78 proceeding against the Department of Health, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for punitive damages for the suffering of the French-American community. Sunnen claimed that Schumer was negligent in failing to make timely statements that would have quelled destructive anti-French reactions and that he did not do anything to prevent the Health Department from blocking the clinical studies. The court dismissed the action, noting that the claims for failure to quell anti-French demonstrations and blocking funding for research projects were on their face frivolous.