161 F.3d 1334 (11th Cir. 1998), 96-8787, Johnson v. University Health Services, Inc.

Docket Nº:96-8787.
Citation:161 F.3d 1334
Party Name:Weekly Fed. C 309 Cherie JOHNSON, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNIVERSITY HEALTH SERVICES, INC. d.b.a. University Hospital; Hossam E. Fadel, M.D.; Hossam E. Fadel, M.D., P.C., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:December 03, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1334

161 F.3d 1334 (11th Cir. 1998)

Weekly Fed. C 309

Cherie JOHNSON, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

UNIVERSITY HEALTH SERVICES, INC. d.b.a. University Hospital;

Hossam E. Fadel, M.D.; Hossam E. Fadel, M.D.,

P.C., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 96-8787.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

December 3, 1998

Page 1335

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Carl Mullis, J. James Johnson, Long, Aldridge & Norman, Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

R. Perry Sentell, III, Raymond G. Chadwick, Kilpatrick & Cody, Augusta, GA, for Defendants-Appellees.

John C. Bell, Jr., Bell & James, Augusta, GA, for Fadel.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.

Before TJOFLAT, BIRCH and MARCUS, Circuit Judges.

TJOFLAT, Circuit Judge:

The plaintiff in this case claims that a hospital's refusal to provide her with over $1 million to start her own private practice constitutes a violation of the antitrust laws. We disagree, and thus affirm the judgment of the district court.

I.

Cherie Johnson, M.D., is a perinatologist, which is an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. She was recruited in May 1992 by Hossam E. Fadel, M.D. (a fellow perinatologist), to work for his obstetrics/perinatology practice in Augusta, Georgia. Dr. Fadel is a member of the obstetrics department of University Hospital in Augusta, which is run by the non-profit University Health Services (UHS).

Only a few months into her employment, Dr. Johnson became dissatisfied with her position. Her primary dissatisfaction was based on the low number of new patients that Dr. Fadel allowed her to admit to University Hospital. According to Dr. Johnson, it was important that she admit a large number of new patients in order to become a board certified perinatologist; Dr. Fadel was not permitting her to admit patients in sufficient numbers to allow her to qualify for certification as quickly as she would have liked. This violated Dr. Fadel's oral promise, made prior to the commencement of her employment, that he would allow Dr. Johnson to admit all of the practice's new patients. 1 Dr. Johnson also had concerns regarding

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the quality of care provided by Dr. Fadel to his patients.

In response to these problems, Dr. Johnson considered opening her own perinatology practice in Augusta. She spoke with Clyburn Davis, a physician recruiter at UHS, and Lou Imbrogno, UHS' Vice President of Physician Services, about the possibility of receiving financial assistance from UHS in setting up her own practice. These individuals led her to believe that UHS would provide her with financial support to open her own practice should she be unable to work out her differences with Dr. Fadel. Specifically, by April 1993, Dr. Johnson claims to have been promised an $800,000 line of credit, an income guarantee of $200,000 for her first year of practice, 2 an income guarantee of $250,000 for her second year of practice, loan forgiveness if she practiced in Augusta for two years and agreed to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, office space, staff, and medical equipment. UHS, however, insisted that Dr. Johnson inform Dr. Fadel that she was considering other alternatives before it would provide any assistance.

Dr. Johnson's subsequent discussions with Dr. Fadel proved unhelpful; in response, UHS organized a meeting of the obstetrics department to discuss the situation. At the meeting, Drs. Johnson and Fadel both made oral presentations. The department then discussed the matter privately, and voted against subsidizing the establishment of a separate practice for Dr. Johnson. 3 Later that day, Dr. Fadel terminated Dr. Johnson's employment with his practice. She subsequently joined a perinatology practice in Spokane, Washington.

Dr. Johnson then sued Dr. Fadel and UHS in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. 4 She brought five claims. First, Dr. Johnson claimed that Dr. Fadel and UHS conspired to restrain trade in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1 (1994), by preventing her from starting her own practice in competition with Dr. Fadel. Second, Dr. Johnson claimed that Dr. Fadel violated section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2 (1994), by monopolizing the practice of perinatology in the Augusta market. Third, Dr. Johnson claimed that UHS breached its contractual agreement to provide her with a financial assistance package to start her own perinatology practice. Fourth, as an alternative claim to breach of contract, Dr. Johnson claimed that UHS was estopped from refusing to provide her with financial assistance under the doctrine of promissory estoppel. Fifth, Dr. Johnson claimed that Dr. Fadel fraudulently induced her to come to Augusta and work for him by giving her the false promise that he would allow her to admit all of the practice's new patients.

The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on all counts. 5 Dr. Johnson appeals.

II.

In this part, we address each of Dr. Johnson's claims. We conclude that they are without merit, and thus affirm the judgment of the district court.

A.

Dr. Johnson's first two causes of action are antitrust claims. We hold that she lacks standing to bring these claims.

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Any cause of action, whether created by statute or common law, is designed to protect a certain class of people from certain types of injury. For instance, "breach of contract" is designed to protect parties to a contract (the class) from noncompliance with the terms of their contract (the type of injury). If A violates his supply contract with B, C cannot sue A for breach of contract because C is not a party to the contract, and thus not among the class of people protected by breach of contract. Likewise, if A assaults B, B cannot then sue A for breach of contract, because B's injury does not arise from noncompliance with the contract and thus B has not suffered the type of injury against which breach of contract protects. These two facets of a cause of action--class of plaintiff and type of injury--are the basis for the requirement that a plaintiff have "standing."

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