The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irenas, District Judge.
Presently before the court is Defendants William B. Aarons,
M.D., Francis J. Previti, M.D., Boardwalk Surgery Associates,
P.A., Susan Bane, M.D., and Atlantic City Medical Center's
motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff Ricardo Urdinaran,
M.D.'s claims alleging antitrust violations under the Sherman
Act, the Clayton Act, and the New Jersey Antitrust Act and his
claims alleging fraudulent misrepresentation, malicious
interference with prospective economic advantage, and breach of
contract. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1367. For the reasons set forth below, the
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted as to
Plaintiffs federal and state antitrust claims. Because the Court
is disposing of all claims over which it has original
jurisdiction, the Court declines to exercise its supplemental
jurisdiction over the remaining state contract and tort claims.
Plaintiff Ricardo Urdinaran was a general surgeon practicing
at Shore Memorial Hospital and Defendant Atlantic City Medical
Center ("ACMC"). In June of 1995, Plaintiff relinquished certain
medical privileges at ACMC. In November of 1996, Plaintiff
sought reinstatement of those privileges. After an extensive
hearing and various appeals, Plaintiff ultimately was denied
The first phase of the events leading to this litigation
occurred between Spring of 1994 and Summer of 1995. On May 17,
1994, the Quality Assessment Committee ("QAC") at ACMC, chaired
by Defendant William B. Aarons, M.D. ("Dr.Aarons"), sent
Plaintiff a letter requesting information regarding the death of
one of his patients a month earlier. The QAC's function is to
ensure patient care quality by reviewing cases flagged for
potential problems. On March 4, 1995, the QAC again requested an
explanation regarding Plaintiff's treatment of the patient.
Plaintiff did not respond to either inquiry.
On April 13, 1995, the QAC met to consider several of
Plaintiffs cases. According to the minutes of the meeting, the
QAC found "a demonstrated pattern of judgmental and technical
failures," including, in two cases, Plaintiffs failure to order
CT scans before performing exploratory surgery. Dr. Aarons
testified, and the minutes reflect, that the QAC recommended
corrective action be initiated against Plaintiff. Several weeks
after the meeting, on June 3, 1995, Plaintiff was involved in
another patient incident, in which he accidentally inserted a
catheter into an artery rather than a vein, a mishap which
required repair by another surgeon.
On the morning of June 9, 1995, Defendants Dr. Aarons and
Francis J. Previti, M.D. ("Dr.Previti"), who was Chairman of the
Department of Surgery, met with Plaintiff to discuss his
performance. Drs. Aarons and Previti told Plaintiff he could
either voluntarily relinquish his surgical privileges or could
face corrective action subject to ACMC's Fair Hearing Committee.
Dr. Aarons told Plaintiff that, in his opinion, he would likely
lose his surgical privileges. Plaintiff alleges, and Drs. Aarons
and Previti deny, that they threatened Plaintiff with summary
suspension if he did not relinquish his privileges. Plaintiff
requested monitoring as an alternative, but Dr. Aarons told him
such a solution would be too onerous.
On June 19, 1995, after consulting a lawyer and discussing his
options with several physicians, including Defendant Susan Bane,
M.D. ("Dr.Bane"), Plaintiff relinquished his privileges at ACMC
with regard to intra-abdominal surgery, requested relief from
his ACMC emergency room duties, and resigned from ACMC's trauma
On November 12, 1996, Plaintiff sought reinstatement of his
privileges at ACMC. After the ACMC Medical Staff Executive
Committee denied his request purportedly on the basis of his
previous resignation and Plaintiffs failure to provide the
credentials committee with sufficient evidence of his then
current clinical competence, Plaintiff requested a hearing
before the Fair Hearing Committee ("FHC"), as provided for in
the ACMC By-Laws. The hearing, which began on May 22, 1997,
lasted seven days. Finding unjustified deviations in Plaintiffs
performance and no evidence that Drs. Previti and Aarons were
motivated by economic self-interest, the FHC recommended that
the Executive Committee affirm its previous denial of Plaintiffs
privileges, which the Executive Committee did on December 19,
1997. After the Board of Governors then affirmed the Executive
Committee's decision, Plaintiff requested appellate review by an
appeals panel of the Board of Governors, which, on April 22,
1998, affirmed the Board's prior decision.
At all relevant times, Plaintiff continued to practice at
Shore Memorial Hospital and retained some privileges at ACMC. In
Atlantic County, which Plaintiff claims is the relevant
geographic market, there is also a third hospital, Kessler
Memorial Hospital, at which Plaintiff did not have privileges.
In general surgery, which Plaintiff claims is the relevant
product market, there were thirty-four other surgeons practicing
at these three hospitals during this period.
On February 5, 1999, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants
ACMC, Drs. Previti, Aarons, and Bane, Boardwalk Surgery
Associates, and John Does 1-50. Plaintiff contends that he was
unfairly coerced into relinquishing his privileges at ACMC and
that the entire peer review process was unfairly biased, all
part of a conspiracy to oust him from the hospital and
appropriate his business. In the First and Second Counts,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants acted to restrain competition
and interstate and intrastate trade and to monopolize or attempt
to monopolize in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1,
2, the Clayton Act, § 4, 15 U.S.C. § 15(a), and the New Jersey
Antitrust Act, N.J.S.A. 59:9-4(a), et seq. Plaintiff also
alleged fraudulent misrepresentation (Third Count), malicious
interference with prospective economic advantage (Fourth Count),
and breach of contract, on the theory that the By-Laws
constituted a contract between Plaintiff and ACMC (Fifth Count).
On July 24, 2000, Defendants filed a motion for summary
"[S]ummary judgment is proper `if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must
construe the facts and inferences in a light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Pollock v. American Tel. & Tel. Long
Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986). The role of the court
is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
Despite the "factually intensive" nature of antitrust cases,
"the standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 remains the same." Town Sound
& Custom Tops, Inc. v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 959 F.2d 468, 481
(3d Cir.) (in banc) (citations omitted), cert. denied,
506 U.S. 868, 113 S.Ct. 196, 121 L.Ed.2d 139 (1992). There is no "special
burden . . . [for] summary judgment in antitrust cases."
Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Servs., Inc.,
504 U.S. 451, 468, 112 S.Ct. 2072, 119 L.Ed.2d 265 (1992).
Section 1 of the Sherman Act provides: Every
contract, combination in the form of trust or
otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or
commerce among the several States, ...