437 F.2d 173 (5th Cir. 1971), 29458, Sosa v. Board of Managers of Val Verde Memorial Hospital

Docket Nº:29458.
Citation:437 F.2d 173
Party Name:Doctor Robert SOSA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BOARD OF MANAGERS OF the VAL VERDE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 06, 1971
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 173

437 F.2d 173 (5th Cir. 1971)

Doctor Robert SOSA, Plaintiff-Appellee,



No. 29458.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

January 6, 1971

Rehearing Denied Feb. 16, 1971.

Page 174

C. Dean Davis, Davis & Nobles, Austin, Tex., for defendant-appellant.

Arturo Gonzalez, Del Rio, Tex., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before TUTTLE, BELL, and GOLDBERG, Circuit Judges.

GOLDBERG, Circuit Judge:

This case poses the problem of the conflict between the right of a doctor to be on the staff of a hospital and the obligation of the hospital to exact professional competence and the ethical spirit of Hippocrates as conditions precedent to such staff privileges.

Dr. Robert Sosa brought this suit against the Board of Managers of the Val Verde Memorial Hospital, claiming that the Board had violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in denying him admission to the Medical Staff of the hospital.

The Board of Managers is the governing body of the Val Verde Memorial Hospital, which is a county institution established pursuant to Vernon's Ann.Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat. arts. 4478 to 4494r-3. The Board is appointed by the County Commissioners Court of Val Verde County, and the hospital was constructed and is maintained and operated with county funds supplemented by federal aid under the Hill-Burton Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 291 et seq. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the Board of Managers of the Val Verde Memorial Hospital is a public body receiving both state and federal funds. Its acts are thus state acts and must comport with the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment. Sams v. Ohio Valley General Hospital Association, 4 Cir. 1969, 413 F.2d 826; Foster v. Mobile County Hospital Board, 5 Cir. 1968, 398 F.2d 227; Meredith v. Allen County War Memorial Hospital Commission, 6 Cir. 1968, 397 F.2d 33; Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, 4 Cir. 1963, 323 F.2d 959, cert. denied, 376 U.S. 938, 84 S.Ct. 793, 11 L.Ed.2d 659.

Dr. Sosa's dispute with the Board began in 1967 when he first sought admission to the Medical Staff of the hospital. This initial application was refused. Throughout 1968 Dr. Sosa made various additional attempts to gain admission to the staff, but these efforts were unavailing. His final application was submitted in August, 1969, and, like those which had preceded it, met with refusal. This suit was filed October 22, 1969, and alleged that the rejection of Dr. Sosa's application by the Board was arbitrary and discriminatory and further constituted a denial of procedural due process by reason of the Board's failure to supply him with any reasons for its action.

The district court, after trial, found that the refusal of the Board to allow Dr. Sosa staff privileges had under the circumstances violated the doctor's constitutional rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment. The court enjoined the Board from refusing Dr. Sosa membership on the Medical Staff, but conditioned his admission on 'such reasonable limitations as the Board of Managers may formally impose under their bylaws.'

Before the hospital acted on this order, Dr. Sosa made a motion before the district court that the defendants be held in contempt for failing to allow him admission to the hospital staff pursuant to the court's order. The defendants countered with a motion to stay the injunction pending appeal. On...

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