Decided: November 19, 1962.
LOUIS F. RAYMOND, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND CROSS-RESPONDENT,
JOHN S. CREGAR, DEFENDANT, CROSS-APPELLANT AND BENJAMIN P. DEWITT, RICHARD B. EVANS, PHILIP H. CONDIT, THOMAS C. RICHARDS, ELWOOD M. HILL, JAMES A. MACART, CALVIN A. AGAR, JR., LESLIE L. BLAU, JOHN P. COFFIN, JOHN R. DESIDERIO, FERDINAND C. DINGE, HERBERT S. GAY, JR., MERVIN H. GOLDSMITH, LEROY M. GRIGGS, CHARLES A. HEISS, JOHN E. JUDSON, JAMES L. MACWITHEY, WILLIAM M. MCCONNEL, AUGUST MERZ, ANTHONY P. MIELE, MRS. ARTHUR G. PILCH, ARTHUR T. PRESCOTT, MRS. MARGERY E. RAAB, LESLIE C. RICKETTS, M. RAYMOND RILEY, ROBERT F. ROH, M.D., GORDON V. STODDARD, M.D., THOMAS W. SWEENEY, HARRY A. TAYLOR, ADELBERT B. TWITCHELL, M.D., GUSTAVE E. WIEDENMAYER, EDWARD H. WILLAN, M.D., MRS. ROY V. WRIGHT, WILLIAM G. WRIGHTSON, JR. AND THE EAST ORANGE GENERAL HOSPITAL, A CORPORATION OF N.J., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS
For affirmance in part and reversal in part -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Schettino and Haneman. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Proctor, J.
This action was brought by the plaintiff, a physician, against East Orange General Hospital (Hospital), a private, nonprofit corporation; against its Board of Trustees individually; and against three other persons, Benjamin P. DeWitt, Richard B. Evans, and Dr. John S. Cregar, who are associated with the Hospital. The plaintiff, who specializes in ophthalmology, had been appointed a member of the Medical Staff of the Hospital in 1952, and was reappointed each year until 1958. His action stems from the fact that he failed of reappointment to the staff for the year 1958. Such failure, he charges, was due to the malicious interference by individual defendants and to the breach of the reappointment provisions of the Hospital's bylaws.
The first and third counts of the plaintiff's amended five-count complaint were abandoned by him on the appeal to the Appellate Division, and need not be considered here.
In the second count the plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages, charging that the defendants, DeWitt, Evans and Cregar, individually as well as part of a conspiracy, acted maliciously to "interfere with and obstruct the orderly and customary promotions of plaintiff" while he was a member of the Medical Staff, and that they circulated "false, tortious and malicious rumors, untruths and defamatory statements" which caused "plaintiff's appointment to the * * * Medical Staff to be revoked and defendants did prevent plaintiff's reappointment to aforesaid Medical Staff" for the year 1958, and that they "interfered with plaintiff's surgical privileges at the * * * Hospital * * * all for the malicious purpose of ruining plaintiff and interfering with the plaintiff in his profession."
In the fourth count the plaintiff sought compensatory damages against the members of the Hospital's Board of Trustees, alleging that they were individually responsible for the Hospital's alleged violation of its bylaw governing the reappointment of members of the Medical Staff. In the fifth count plaintiff sought compensatory damages against the defendant Hospital based upon its alleged violation of the same bylaw provisions.
All defendants moved for summary judgment based upon the pleadings, affidavits, depositions and answers to interrogatories. The motion was granted by the trial court and a judgment dismissing the amended complaint was entered. On the plaintiff's appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the judgment of the trial court as to all defendants except Cregar, and to the extent that the allegations of the second count relate to him, the case was reversed and remanded for trial. 72 N.J. Super. 73 (1962).
The plaintiff petitioned this court for certification as to that part of the judgment of the Appellate Division which affirmed the trial court, and the defendant Cregar petitioned for certification as to that part of the judgment which reversed the trial court and directed that he stand trial on the
second count. We granted both petitions. 37 N.J. 225 (1962).
The basis of the fourth and fifth counts of the amended complaint is the alleged breach of Article III, section 3 of the Hospital bylaws which, it is contended, resulted in the plaintiff's failure of reappointment.*fn1 This bylaw provides:
"Appointment to the Medical Staff shall be made by the Board of Trustees and shall be for a period of one year or until the next succeeding annual meeting of the Board of Trustees, whichever is earlier. The Board of Trustees at its annual meeting in each year may make reappointments to the Medical Staff for a further period of one year or until the next succeeding annual meeting of the Board of Trustees, whichever is earlier, except in cases where the Medical Board, constituted as hereinafter provided, has recommended that reappointments shall not be made. If the Board of Trustees decides not to reappoint any member, whether or not recommended by the Medical Board, the Board of Trustees shall so advise the Medical Board.
In no case shall the Board of Trustees appoint a recommended*fn2 applicant, cancel an appointment previously made or refuse to renew an appointment without conferring ...
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