SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – California 4th Appellate District Court of Appeal, Division One on Oct. 16 upheld a Superior Court decision that an Orange County woman who practiced as a physical therapist could be disciplined by the Physical Therapy Board of California for misdemeanor property damage after she had allegedly misused alcohol.
According to the order, Grace Lorraine Walker appealed an Orange County Superior Court judgment after it denied her writ of administrative mandamus request, or an order from a court to order a government official to fulfill its duties, to side aside the Physical Therapy Board of California's decision that subjected her to discipline. The Superior Court had determined that a misdemeanor conviction in the case was by itself not enough to warrant discipline by the board because it didn’t relate directly to Walker’s practicing of physical therapy, but was appropriate under a state Business and Professions Code.
Walker became a licensed physical therapist in 1978.
According to the order, on the evening of Jan. 1, 2011, Walker left her home allegedly under the influence of alcohol to pick up dinner at a restaurant. The orders states that on a narrow street her car nicked another vehicle, then she backed up to check the damage and struck another vehicle, breaking its tail light.
She allegedly got out of her car to assess the damage and seeing that the second vehicle belonged to a neighbor who was out of town, got back into her car and drove away. The order states two witnesses who said they saw Walker stumble as she exited her car and who asked her if she was all right, went to a nearby house to report the collision and a homeowner Patricia Thompson reported the collision to the Newport Beach Police Department.
Later in the evening, the order states officers arrived at Walker’s house and alleged that she smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on her feet. The officers determined she was under the influence and arrested her. Walker agreed to a breathalyzer test and registered .19 percent, the order states.
Walker was charged with DUI and having a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more, and hit and run causing property damage. In June 2012 she pled guilty to the misdemeanor hit and run. The two alcohol-related charges were dropped.
The California Physical Therapy Board in October 2012 served an accusation on Walker seeking to revoke her therapy license citing violations including standards contained in the state’s Physical Therapy Practice Act.
Walker denied the charges and a four-day hearing was held in June 2014.
The Therapy Board, after reviewing the transcripts of the hearing, determined that cause existed for Walker to be disciplined.
The board stayed revocation of Walker's license and placed her on probation for two years or one year after completion of a drug and alcohol recovery monitoring program.
Walker filed the writ of mandamus with the Orange County Superior Court asking the court to direct the Physical Therapy Board to set aside its decision and remove the accusation. The Superior Court denied the writ and upheld the board decision.
The appellate court agreed that provisions in the Business and Professions Code did permit the board to impose discipline and affirmed the Orange County Superior Court judgment.