In re Stephanie H. Taylor, M.D.
Appeal from Medical Practice Board, Robert Hayward, Chair
G. Adrian of Monaghan Safar Ducham PLLC, Burlington, for
William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, and Jacob A. Humbert,
Assistant Attorney General, Montpelier, for Appellee.
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund and Eaton, JJ., and
Tomasi, Supr. J., Specially Assigned
1. Dr. Stephanie Taylor appeals from a decision of the
Vermont Medical Practice Board denying her request to vacate
the provisions of a 2005 consent order in which she agreed to
a "final and irrevocable" surrender of her medical
license. Dr. Taylor contends the Board erroneously: (1)
failed to determine whether there were "less restrictive
means available to regulate [her] conduct"; (2) violated
her right to due process by "shift[ing] the burden onto
[her] . . . to guess at the Board's requirements for
reinstatement;" (3) relied on the specification of
charges that led to the earlier consent order; and (4)
considered a Massachusetts decision revoking her medical
license in that state. We affirm.
2. This is the second appeal to reach the Court in this
matter. See In re Taylor, 2015 VT 95, ___Vt. ___,
128 A.3d 422. In the first appeal, we recounted Dr.
Taylor's "long and troubled" disciplinary
history, which began in 1996 with a consent order in which
she admitted to a "chemical addiction" that posed a
threat to the safety of her patients, a "mental
impairment" that affected her competence to practice,
and a "disregard for the fundamental principles of
doctor-patient boundaries." Id. ¶ 2. Dr.
Taylor agreed at the time to an indefinite suspension of her
license and numerous conditions for reinstatement, including
a stipulation that she not return to the practice of
psychiatry, address her substance abuse and mental health
issues, and refrain from prescribing medications for family
3. In June 2000, the Board agreed to amend the consent order
to allow Dr. Taylor to pursue a family practice residency at
Tufts University in Massachusetts. Dr. Taylor simultaneously
entered into an agreement with the Massachusetts Board of
Registration in Medicine limiting her practice to activities
within the residency and otherwise placing her on indefinite
suspension with numerous conditions for full reinstatement.
Id. ¶ 3. After completing the residency, Dr.
Taylor entered into a further consent order for a conditional
license to practice medicine in Vermont subject to many of
the earlier conditions. Id. ¶ 4. Not long
thereafter, however, the Massachusetts medical board
suspended Dr. Taylor's conditional license for failure to
comply with drug testing, and the Vermont Board launched a
new investigation, ultimately filing a complaint against Dr.
Taylor alleging twenty-five counts of professional
misconduct, including allegations that she materially
breached provisions of the previous consent orders,
improperly prescribed medications, violated professional
boundaries, and failed to adhere to professional medical
standards. Id. ¶ 5.
4. The new charges led to further stipulation and consent
order in August 2005. While entering no admission to the
charges, she agreed that the order was "an acceptable
means of resolving the matter" and "in the
interests of all parties." Id. ¶ 6. Under
the order, Dr. Taylor agreed to surrender her medical
license, and further agreed that the "surrender of her
license shall be final and irrevocable" and that she
would not seek relicensure or reinstatement. Id.
5. Notwithstanding her agreement, Dr. Taylor submitted
separate applications for reinstatement to the Board in May
2013 and March 2014. The State, in response, acknowledged
that the Board retained the authority to modify the 2005
consent order to remove the restrictive clauses as a
precondition to an application for relicensure. Following
additional briefing, the Board held an evidentiary hearing in
July 2014, and shortly thereafter issued a brief, one-page
written decision denying Dr. Taylor's request.
Id. ¶ 13.
6. We reversed the decision on appeal and remanded to the
Board for additional findings to explain the "basis of
its ruling." Id. ¶ 17. In so holding, we
expressed no opinion on the merits of the underlying
decision, and left it to the Board to decide whether to
"rely on the existing record, or reopen the hearing for
further evidence." Id. ¶ 20. We also
acknowledged that, in the interests of fairness, the State
would be afforded the opportunity to relitigate the original
charges, and the Board the discretion "to consider the
nature and gravity of the original charges and the pattern of
behavior over time that they may reveal." Id.
7. Following our remand, the State informed the Board and Dr.
Taylor that it would not seek to reopen the charges or
introduce new evidence, and confirmed that "the matter
on remand is ready for decision on the existing record."
The parties filed proposed findings and conclusions, and
presented argument at a hearing before the Board in October
2015. The Board issued its decision the following month,
again denying Dr. Taylor's request. The fourteen-page
ruling contains extensive findings and conclusions, and
ultimately holds that Dr. Taylor failed to adduce sufficient
evidence of her rehabilitation to support a conclusion that
the permanent surrender of her license was no longer
necessary to protect the public and the integrity of the
profession. This appeal followed.
8. Dr. Taylor first asserts that the Board erred in failing
to determine whether there were "less restrictive means
available to regulate [her] conduct" short of denying
her request to vacate the irrevocable-surrender clause in the
2005 consent order and allow her to apply for reinstatement.
She relies on language in 26 V.S.A. § 3101, which sets
forth the general legislative "[p]olicy and
purpose" for regulation of the professions in Vermont.
In pertinent part, the statute provides:
It is the policy of the state of Vermont that regulation be
imposed upon a profession or occupation solely for the
purpose of protecting the public. The legislature believes
that all individuals should be permitted to enter into a
profession or occupation unless there is a demonstrated need
for the state to protect the interests of the public by
restricting entry into the profession or occupation. If such
a need is identified, the form of ...