UC Settles Bias Case Filed by Ex-Intern

Times Staff Writer

An African American man who was dismissed from an internship program at UCLA’s medical school 10 years ago has reached a $1.3-million racial discrimination settlement with the University of California Board of Regents, school officials and his attorney said Sunday.

According to court records, David Dixon was dismissed from UCLA’s family medicine residency program in 1994 for “allegedly poor performance.” But Dixon, now 43, contended the dismissal was part of an “orchestrated effort” that made him a “blatant victim of old-fashioned racial discrimination,” according to a statement from his attorney, Melanie E. Lomax.

Dixon, who comes from a family of physicians and is currently employed as a medical researcher, said the termination left him without a license to practice medicine.

“I am relieved that after 10 years, this case is finally over,” Dixon said in a statement. “While the settlement is welcome, it can never restore the dreams that were shattered and the years of my life that were lost, all because of the ignorance of racial discrimination.”

University counsel Christopher Patti said in a statement that the school denied any wrongdoing and “reached this settlement in recognition of the uncertainties that any trial can bring.”

University attorneys argued that Dixon did not present enough evidence to bring a discrimination case to trial. But a state appellate court disagreed twice. And in November, the California Supreme Court let stand the appellate court’s most recent ruling.

The appellate court found that some of the doctors who rated Dixon’s performance as poor never saw him do the work in question. The court also found that at the time, Dixon was only the third African American to be admitted to UCLA’s family medicine residency intern program since the early 1970s.

Roxanne Moster, a UCLA health sciences spokeswoman, said that very few blacks had applied for such internships during that period.