Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BROWN v. OUR LADY OF LOURDES MEDICAL CTR

July 15, 1991

DONALD J. BROWN, M.D., M.S. IN SURGERY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OUR LADY OF LOURDES MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brotman, District Judge.

  OPINION

Presently before the court are three motions — plaintiff's appeal from the November 9, 1990 order of the Magistrate Judge, plaintiff's appeal from the December 27, 1990 order of the Magistrate Judge, and defendants' motion for summary judgment.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff is a cardiothoracic surgeon who was denied medical staff privileges at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center ("Our Lady of Lourdes" or the "hospital") in May of 1987. He brings this suit against the hospital, its Board of Trustees, the individual members of the Executive Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee of the hospital which denied him staff privileges, the attorneys who represented the hospital at the review proceedings and the retired judge who presided over the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee. He claims that defendants violated the antitrust laws and infringed his due process rights when he was denied staff privileges at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Before the court are plaintiff's appeals from the November 9, 1990 and December 27, 1990 orders of the Magistrate Judge denying him certain relief, and defendants' motion for summary judgment on all claims. The court heard argument on these motions on March 1, 1991, and will address each in turn.*fn1

II. APPEAL FROM THE ORDERS OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

On November 9, 1990, the Honorable Joel B. Rosen, United States Magistrate Judge, entered an order denying plaintiff's motion to add numerous fictitious defendants and to compel defense counsel to accept service of process for certain defendants. Plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal of that order. On December 27, 1990, the Magistrate Judge entered an order denying additional discovery motions of plaintiff, and again denying plaintiff's motion to add numerous fictitious defendants and to compel defense counsel to accept service of process for the reasons the Magistrate Judge noted on the record on December 18, 1990. Plaintiff also filed a timely notice of appeal from that determination of the Magistrate Judge. He contends that the Magistrate Judge erred by denying his discovery motions.*fn2

A decision by the Magistrate Judge on a non-dispositive motion will be set aside only if the district court finds that the determination was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. General Rule 40(D)(4)(a); Fed.R. Civ.P. 72(a); see Cippollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 785 F.2d 1108, 1113 (3d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 976, 108 S.Ct. 487, 98 L.Ed.2d 485 (1987). Hence, the court will examine each of the rulings of the Magistrate Judge to which plaintiff objects in order to determine whether they were clearly erroneous or contrary to law.

Plaintiff's first contention of error is that he should have been allowed to name Does 1-200 as additional defendants in this action. The court cannot find that the Magistrate Judge's denial of plaintiff's motion to name 200 fictitious defendants was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Plaintiff has already been allowed to amend his complaint to add new defendants. At the time he denied plaintiff's motion to add Does 1-200 as defendants, the Magistrate Judge expressly informed plaintiff that he could move in the future to amend his complaint pursuant to Fed.R. Civ.P. 15(a) as to any specific newly named individual, and that such motion would be judged on the merits. Plaintiff's rights are adequately protected by the ruling of the Magistrate Judge, and plaintiff suffers no prejudice from having to move to amend his complaint to name a specific individual.

Plaintiff appeals from the denial of his motion to institute criminal charges and/or ethical disciplinary proceedings against Joseph M. Gorrell, Esq., Burton Eichler, Esq., Michael Brennan, Esq., William Cahill, Esq., and the Honorable Edward Martino. As the Magistrate Judge ruled, this court has no jurisdiction to institute criminal charges against these individuals. In addition, the court finds that it was not clearly erroneous or contrary to law to deny plaintiff's motion to institute ethical disciplinary proceedings against the above-named attorneys as plaintiff has failed to come forward with any facts supporting his contention that the attorneys violated the ethical rules governing the behavior of attorneys.

The Magistrate Judge also denied plaintiff's motion to compel the production of the medical records of Elmer Grimes, M.D., or, in the alternative, to compel the deposition of his widow. Dr. Grimes served on the Ad Hoc Committee which voted to reaffirm the Executive Committee's denial of staff privileges to Dr. Brown. Dr. Grimes died recently from a brain tumor. Dr. Brown contends that it is likely that the brain tumor affected Dr. Grimes reasoning ability; therefore, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to discovery concerning the nature and extent of the tumor. The Magistrate Judge denied plaintiff's motion as the medical records of Dr. Grimes are irrelevant to the instant litigation and because the records are protected by doctor/patient privilege. The Magistrate Judge further found that allowing discovery of those items would constitute an invasion of privacy. For similar reasons, the Magistrate Judge denied the motion to compel the deposition of Dr. Grimes' widow. The court concurs with the Magistrate Judge's ruling.

Plaintiff also sought the entry of summary judgment against John Manion and the Board of Trustees for their failure to comply with his discovery requests. The Magistrate Judge denied that motion without prejudice to plaintiff's right to renew that motion before this court. After examining plaintiff's submissions, this court finds that defendants have substantially, if not completely, complied with plaintiff's discovery requests. Hence, the court will not enter summary judgment against John Manion and the Board of Trustees as a discovery sanction.

Dr. Brown moved to compel defendants to provide local (i.e. Camden County) access to discovery. The Magistrate Judge denied that motion as there is no requirement in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that discovery materials be kept locally. This ruling was not clearly erroneous, and this court will not overturn it.

The Magistrate Judge also denied plaintiff's motion to compel defendants' counsel to accept service of process for certain defendants. Plaintiff contends that personal service is time-consuming and inconvenient. The court finds that the Magistrate Judge's ruling was not clearly erroneous, and plaintiff must comply with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 4 despite any inconvenience to him.

Plaintiff objects to other provisions of the Magistrate Judge's orders. After examining the submissions of the parties, the court is satisfied that the rulings of the Magistrate Judge were not clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Hence, plaintiff's motions to reverse or modify the November 9, 1990 and December 27, 1990 orders of the Magistrate Judge will be denied in their entirety.

III. DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Facts and Procedure

Defendants now move for summary judgment or dismissal on several grounds. In order to address defendants' motion, the court must detail the facts in this matter.

On July 1, 1984, plaintiff applied for medical staff privileges at Our Lady of Lourdes. The hospital Credentials Committee granted plaintiff administrative temporary privileges in cardiovascular surgery.

On February 8, 1985, the Credentials Committee reviewed plaintiff's application with plaintiff present. The Credentials Committee recommended that " . . . Dr. Brown should demonstrate current expertise and proficiency in cardiothoracic surgery . . . "Defendants' Appendix ("DA") at 401. The Credentials Committee further recommended that Dr. Brown "could act as an assistant cardiothoracic surgeon with no primary cardiothoracic responsibilities . . ." DA at 402. On April 19, 1985, the Credentials Committee met again, and voted unanimously to reject Dr. Brown's application for Medical Staff privileges. DA at 401. It based its decision on questions relating to Dr. Brown's management of patients from 1967-73 at Atlantic City Medical Center ("ACMC") and his surgical judgment in treating patients from 1974-77 at Huntington Memorial Hospital. DA at 404. In addition, it found Dr. Brown had "failed to provide evidence of present competence in Cardiothoracic Surgery." Id.

The Executive Committee met on May 6, 1985 and unanimously adopted the Credentials Committee recommendation to reject Dr. Brown for active staff privileges. DA at 2. In addition, the Executive Committee affirmed the decision of the administrative department to rescind Dr. Brown's temporary privileges at the hospital. Id.

Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ad hoc committee of the Medical Staff concerning his denial of staff privileges in a letter dated May 9, 1985. DA at 405. Dr. Brown, through counsel, withdrew his application for privileges without prejudice on June 21, 1985 at the hearing before the Ad Hoc Committee. DA at 8-10. The Committee informed Dr. Brown that it would "retain his file. All of the investigation we have done will be in his file, and we will retain that file, and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.