843 F.2d 139 (3rd Cir. 1988), 87-3403, Miller v. Indiana Hosp.

Docket Nº:87-3403.
Citation:843 F.2d 139
Party Name:Ralph J. MILLER, M.D., Appellant, v. INDIANA HOSPITAL, a corporation; Henry F. Hild; Donald F. Smith; William R. McMillen; John S. Simpson; Thomas S. Barbor; Samuel W. Jack, Jr.; Mrs. C. Fred Hildebrand; Mrs. Wanda M. Weyandt; Harry C. McCreary; C. Wilmer Johnston; George M. Evans; Donald S. Brody; Roger J. Reschini; Joseph Kovalchick; William G. E
Case Date:March 31, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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Page 139

843 F.2d 139 (3rd Cir. 1988)

Ralph J. MILLER, M.D., Appellant,

v.

INDIANA HOSPITAL, a corporation; Henry F. Hild; Donald F.

Smith; William R. McMillen; John S. Simpson; Thomas S.

Barbor; Samuel W. Jack, Jr.; Mrs. C. Fred Hildebrand;

Mrs. Wanda M. Weyandt; Harry C. McCreary; C. Wilmer

Johnston; George M. Evans; Donald S. Brody; Roger J.

Reschini; Joseph Kovalchick; William G. Evans, M.D.;

Melvin C. Williams, M.D.; Robert G. Goldstrohm, M.D.;

David C. Hughes, M.D.; Ralph F. Waldo, M.D.; Herbert L.

Hanna, M.D.; Richard N. Freda, M.D.; Frank Weiner, M.D.;

Henry Mitchell, M.D.; Ralph R. Brown, M.D.

No. 87-3403.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 31, 1988

Argued Nov. 6, 1987.

Rehearing and Rehearing En banc Denied April 22, 1988.

Page 140

Judd F. Crosby (argued), Evans, Ivory, Moses, Hollander & MacVay, P.C., Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellant.

Larry A. Silverman (argued), Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C., Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellees.

Before SLOVITER and BECKER, Circuit Judges, and COWEN, District Judge [*].

OPINION

SLOVITER, Circuit Judge.

In this antitrust case filed by a physician against a hospital and members of its administrative and medical staff the district court entered summary judgment for the defendants based on its conclusion that the hospital's decision to terminate the physician's staff privileges was supported by "substantial evidence" of the physician's unprofessional conduct. 660 F.Supp. 250. On appeal, we must decide whether the court erred as a matter of law in using a "substantial evidence" standard for entry of summary judgment.

I.

Plaintiff Ralph J. Miller is a licensed physician and surgeon specializing in urology. He was a teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh for several years and has published numerous articles in the area of his medical specialty. He established a practice in Indiana, Pennsylvania in 1959 after obtaining staff privileges in the Department of Surgery at Indiana Hospital. 1 Indiana Hospital is the only general hospital in the County of Indiana, a county with a population of approximately 93,000 persons and an area of 825 square miles.

Several years after moving to Indiana, Miller purchased land and built a five-office medical building two miles from the hospital. In 1975 Miller erected another building on the land, in which he envisioned housing a comprehensive family-oriented medical center, which was to include a group practice, with pediatricians, family practitioners, and medical and surgical specialists. The center also included on-site laboratory and radiology services which, Miller has averred, it could and did provide "at lower cost than the same services at the hospital." App. at 151.

According to the affidavits of Miller and others, the administrators of Indiana Hospital

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perceived Miller and his expansion plans as a threat to the hospital. For example, William Peters, Administrator of the hospital in the 1960's, averred that in the mid-1960's Henry Hild, Chairman of the Board of the hospital, told Peters that he disliked Miller and was concerned about Miller's plans to expand his health care holdings. Robert Knight, Comptroller of the hospital in the early 1970's, averred that people within the hospital administration were fearful that Miller and his expansion plans posed a threat to the hospital and that they wanted to "gather sufficient medical staff support to keep Dr. Miller from hiring good doctors to staff his medical center." App. at 140-41. Don Gaydos, Director of Fiscal Services at the hospital in the early to mid 1970's, averred that Donald Smith, President of the hospital, told Gaydos "to befriend Dr. Miller so that I [Gaydos] could gather information on what and how Dr. Miller was planning as to expansion of his medical office building and his health care center so that I could report these things back to Mr. Smith." App. at 138.

In 1977, a patient under Miller's care at the hospital died. After a member of the medical staff's executive committee wrote several letters to the staff's president regarding the allegedly inadequate care Miller had provided to the deceased patient and others, the hospital's executive committee held an informal meeting, which Miller attended. The executive committee thereafter sent Miller written notice of its decision to recommend to the hospital's board of directors that Miller's staff privileges be revoked.

Following Miller's demand for a hearing, the executive committee notified Miller in writing of the hearing date, the charges against him, and the names of the witnesses who were to appear. The hearing committee was comprised of three members of the hospital's medical staff and one member of the dental staff; the hospital's legal counsel presided. Miller was represented by counsel, and was able to present and cross-examine witnesses. The hearing lasted for three days, produced over twenty-two hundred pages of transcript testimony and exhibits, and resulted in a recommendation that Miller's staff privileges be revoked.

Specifically, the hearing committee found that Miller had exhibited "disruptive, insulting, intimidating, disrespectful, disparaging, abusive and other improper behavior" toward various members of the staff, App. at 287-90; that he had acted improperly in the case of the deceased patient by failing to request a medical consultation, by failing to order certain tests, and by making improper entries in the patient's record; that he had failed to comply with an order of the Bureau of Medical Assistance barring him from writing Medical Assistance prescriptions; that he had acted unprofessionally by discussing confidential medical information with a layperson; and that he had failed to carry out certain administrative duties.

The executive committee of the medical staff adopted the hearing committee's recommendation, as did the hospital's Board of Directors. In accordance with the hospital's bylaws, Miller's staff privileges were then revoked. 2

Miller filed an action against the hospital in the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract, defects in the hearing proceedings, and Fourteenth Amendment due process violations. The court granted his ex parte motion for a preliminary injunction, but subsequently dissolved the injunction and denied his request for a permanent injunction...

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