El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Docket No. 157846

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation934 N.W.2d 665,504 Mich. 152
Decision Date10 July 2019
Docket NumberDocket No. 157846
Parties Ali A. EL-KHALIL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. OAKWOOD HEALTHCARE, INC., Oakwood Hospital–Southshore, Oakwood Hospital–Dearborn, Dr. Roderick Boyes, M.D., and Dr. Iqbal Nasir, M.D., Defendants-Appellees.

504 Mich. 152
934 N.W.2d 665

Ali A. EL-KHALIL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
OAKWOOD HEALTHCARE, INC., Oakwood Hospital–Southshore, Oakwood Hospital–Dearborn, Dr. Roderick Boyes, M.D., and Dr. Iqbal Nasir, M.D., Defendants-Appellees.

Docket No. 157846

Supreme Court of Michigan.

Decided July 10, 2019


Mark Granzotto, PC (by Philip Mariani and Mark Granzotto ), Royal Oak, and Law Offices of Ben M. Gonek, PLLC (by Ben M. Gonek, Troy) for plaintiff.

Dykema Gossett PLLC (by Jill M. Wheaton, Ann Arbor, Thomas M. Schehr, Detroit, and Jong-Ju Chang, Bloomfield Hills) for defendants.

BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

Per Curiam.

504 Mich. 154

The issue in this case is the proper analysis of a motion for

504 Mich. 155

summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8). We emphasize that a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) must be decided on the pleadings alone and that all factual allegations must be taken as true. In this case, the Court of Appeals erroneously conducted an MCR 2.116(C)(10) analysis

934 N.W.2d 668

instead of a (C)(8) analysis because it considered evidence beyond the pleadings and required evidentiary support for plaintiff’s allegations rather than accepting them as true. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, which had affirmed under MCR 2.116(C)(8) the trial court’s order granting summary disposition of plaintiff’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) and breach-of-contract claims, and we remand to that Court for consideration of those claims under MCR 2.116(C)(7).

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. PLAINTIFF'S FIRST LAWSUIT

Plaintiff Ali El-Khalil, a podiatrist, was employed by Oakwood Hospital–Dearborn (Oakwood Dearborn) from 2008 until 2011, when he was granted staff privileges at various Oakwood hospitals. His privileges were renewed for one- or two-year periods thereafter until June 2015. In August 2014, plaintiff sued Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Dr. Roderick Boyes, and others, alleging racial discrimination on the basis of his Arabic ethnicity in violation of the ELCRA, tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship, and defamation. Plaintiff claimed that Oakwood and various physicians made false allegations against him in retaliation for his allegations of incompetency and criminality against other physicians. As a result of these allegations, the hospital had initiated administrative proceedings against plaintiff, and after a peer-review process, plaintiff was required to attend an anger-management program, which he successfully

504 Mich. 156

completed. Plaintiff asserted that the peer-review process and resulting actions were conducted with malice and in bad faith.

The trial court granted defendants summary disposition of the discrimination and tortious-interference claims under MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (C)(8), and plaintiff later stipulated to dismissal of his defamation claim.1 After plaintiff’s claims were dismissed, the vice chief of staff at Oakwood Dearborn notified plaintiff that the Medical Staff Peer Review Committee had recently reviewed complaints from plaintiff’s peers about plaintiff’s behavior. Several e-mails, dated February through May 2015, were attached to the notice. Plaintiff was required to attend the committee’s next meeting. Plaintiff responded to the hospital that the complaints were part of an organized plan against him because of racial prejudice and because of his 2014 lawsuit.

On June 2, 2015, Oakwood Dearborn denied plaintiff’s reappointment application, citing the complaints about his behavior. The same month, Oakwood Dearborn, Oakwood Hospital–Southshore, and Oakwood Hospital–Wayne followed suit. At that time, plaintiff still had privileges at Oakwood Hospital–Taylor and six other hospitals.

B. PLAINTIFF'S SECOND LAWSUIT

On June 24, 2015, plaintiff filed the lawsuit that is the subject of this appeal, initially alleging only breach of contract based on an alleged breach of the Medical

504 Mich. 157

Staff Bylaws, which were part of plaintiff’s employment agreement. Plaintiff alleged that his privileges were not set to expire until November 2015 and that they had been suspended without appropriate procedures and notice. On July 6, 2015, plaintiff amended the complaint, adding a claim of

934 N.W.2d 669

unlawful retaliation in violation of the ELCRA, MCL 37.2101 et seq. Plaintiff alleged that defendants unlawfully retaliated against him because of his previous lawsuit. Along with his amended complaint, plaintiff attached the e-mails from physicians complaining about his behavior. Plaintiff also attached his response, in which he had denied the allegations made in the e-mails and argued that the complaints arose from racial prejudice and in retaliation for his first lawsuit.

In lieu of filing an answer, defendants moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) (immunity and release) and (C)(8) (failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted). The trial court granted summary disposition to defendants without specifically identifying which rule supported its decision. With respect to plaintiff’s ELCRA claim, the trial court concluded that defendants had "produced significant evidence that Plaintiff has committed a series of abusive, hostile and otherwise unprofessional behaviors," that any adverse action was connected to plaintiff’s behavior rather than his protected activity, and that "Plaintiff has offered no support for his retaliation claims beyond his assertions." Regarding the contract claim,2 the trial court held that while the bylaws were

504 Mich. 158

an enforceable contract, plaintiff offered no support beyond his bare assertions that defendants' actions were contrary to the bylaws, and the bylaws contained a release from liability. And the trial court further held regarding the breach-of-contract claim that Drs. Boyes and Nasir were entitled to qualified immunity under the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act, 42 USC 11111(a), and under the healthcare peer-review statute, MCL 331.531(2)(a), and that plaintiff offered no evidentiary support for his claim that defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished per curiam opinion. El-Khalil v. Oakwood Health Care Inc. , unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued April 4, 2017 (Docket No. 329986) 2017 WL 1244207 ( El-Khalil I ). The Court of Appeals determined that the trial court reviewed the summary-disposition motion under MCR 2.116(C)(10), affirmed the decision under that subrule, and found it unnecessary to reach the issues of immunity or release under Subrule (C)(7). Id. at 4.3

This Court vacated the Court of Appeals opinion and remanded for review under MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (C)(8). El-Khalil v. Oakwood , 501 Mich. 940, 904 N.W.2d 601 (2017). On

504 Mich. 159

remand, the Court of Appeals held in an unpublished per curiam opinion

934 N.W.2d 670

that summary disposition of plaintiff’s ELCRA-retaliation and breach-of-contract claims was appropriate under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and found it unnecessary to address whether summary disposition of either claim was appropriate under MCR 2.116(C)(7) based on immunity or release. El-Khalil v. Oakwood Health Care Inc. , unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued April 17, 2018 (Docket No. 329986) 2018 WL 1831796 ( El-Khalil II ). Plaintiff filed an application for leave to appeal in this Court, asking us to peremptorily reverse the Court of Appeals or grant leave to appeal, contending that the Court of Appeals simply gave an MCR 2.116(C)(8) label to what was essentially its (C)(10) analysis.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review de novo a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary disposition. Winkler v. Marist Fathers of Detroit, Inc. , 500 Mich. 327, 333, 901 N.W.2d 566 (2017).

III. ANALYSIS

The standards governing summary disposition are cited so often and have become such a part of the fabric of our caselaw that the reader of judicial opinions is likely to skim ahead to the analysis. But this case reveals the dangers in doing so. The distinction between MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (C)(10) is one with an important difference: a claim’s legal sufficiency as opposed to a claim’s factual sufficiency.

A motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8) tests the legal sufficiency of a claim based on the factual allegations in the complaint.

504 Mich. 160

Feyz v. Mercy Mem. Hosp. , 475 Mich. 663, 672, 719 N.W.2d 1 (2006). When considering such a motion, a trial court must accept all factual allegations as true, deciding the motion on the pleadings alone. Bailey v. Schaaf , 494 Mich. 595, 603, 835 N.W.2d 413 (2013) ; MCR 2.116(G)(5). A motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8) may only be granted when a claim is so...

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289 practice notes
  • Mays v. Governor, No. 157335
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 29, 2020
    ...reviews a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) for the legal sufficiency of a claim. El-Khalil v Oakwood Healthcare, Inc, 504 Mich 152, 159; 934 NW2d 665 (2019). We accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, deciding the motion on the pleadings alone. Id. at 16......
  • Esurance Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mich. Assigned Claims Plan, Docket No. 160592
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 26, 2021
    ...Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mich. Assigned Claims Plan , 506 Mich. 913, 948 N.W.2d 446 (2020).13 El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. , 504 Mich. 152, 159-160, 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019) (citations and emphasis omitted).14 Kendzierski v. Macomb Co. , 503 Mich. 296, 302, 931 N.W.2d 604 (2019).15 Wi......
  • Buhl v. City of Oak Park, Docket No. 160355
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • June 9, 2021
    ...omitted). Summary disposition is appropriate when no genuine issues of material fact exist. El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. , 504 Mich. 152, 160, 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the record leaves open an issue upon which reasonable minds might diff......
  • Mays v. Governor of Mich., Docket Nos. 157335-7
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 29, 2020
    ...for summary 506 Mich. 173 disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) for the legal sufficiency of a claim. El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. , 504 Mich. 152, 159, 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019). We accept all 954 N.W.2d 148 factual allegations in the complaint as true, deciding the motion on the pleading......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
314 cases
  • Mays v. Governor, No. 157335
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 29, 2020
    ...reviews a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) for the legal sufficiency of a claim. El-Khalil v Oakwood Healthcare, Inc, 504 Mich 152, 159; 934 NW2d 665 (2019). We accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, deciding the motion on the pleadings alone. Id. at 16......
  • Esurance Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mich. Assigned Claims Plan, Docket No. 160592
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 26, 2021
    ...Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mich. Assigned Claims Plan , 506 Mich. 913, 948 N.W.2d 446 (2020).13 El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. , 504 Mich. 152, 159-160, 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019) (citations and emphasis omitted).14 Kendzierski v. Macomb Co. , 503 Mich. 296, 302, 931 N.W.2d 604 (2019).15 Wi......
  • Buhl v. City of Oak Park, Docket No. 160355
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • June 9, 2021
    ...omitted). Summary disposition is appropriate when no genuine issues of material fact exist. El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. , 504 Mich. 152, 160, 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the record leaves open an issue upon which reasonable minds might diff......
  • Mays v. Governor of Mich., Docket Nos. 157335-7
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 29, 2020
    ...for summary 506 Mich. 173 disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) for the legal sufficiency of a claim. El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. , 504 Mich. 152, 159, 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019). We accept all 954 N.W.2d 148 factual allegations in the complaint as true, deciding the motion on the pleading......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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