Pontius v. Children's Hosp., Civ. A. No. 78-987.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Writing for the CourtCOHILL
Citation552 F. Supp. 1352
PartiesRobert G. PONTIUS, M.D., Plaintiff, v. CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, a Pennsylvania Non-Profit corporation, and Henry T. Bahnson, M.D., Lenox D. Baker, M.D., Thomas K. Oliver, Jr., M.D., James R. Zuberbuhler, M.D., Defendants.
Decision Date30 December 1982
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 78-987.

552 F. Supp. 1352

Robert G. PONTIUS, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, a Pennsylvania Non-Profit corporation, and Henry T. Bahnson, M.D., Lenox D. Baker, M.D., Thomas K. Oliver, Jr., M.D., James R. Zuberbuhler, M.D., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 78-987.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania.

December 30, 1982.


552 F. Supp. 1353
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
552 F. Supp. 1354
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
552 F. Supp. 1355
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
552 F. Supp. 1356
Robert X. Medonis, Pittsburgh, Pa., for plaintiff

Stewart M. Flam, Dickey, McCamey & Chilcote, John S. Sherry, Pittsburgh, Pa., for Bahnson, Baker, Oliver and Zuberbuhler.

George M. Weis, Weis & Weis, Richard T. Wentley, John C. Unkovic, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, Pa., for Children's Hosp.

OPINION

COHILL, District Judge.

Introduction

In November of 1975, Children's Hospital determined not to reappoint the plaintiff, Dr. Robert G. Pontius, to his post as a cardiovascular surgeon. The hospital reached this decision after proceedings which comported not merely with the constitutional requisites of due process, but very nearly the procedural trappings of a full scale trial. The plaintiff now seeks to use federal antitrust laws effectively to obtain judicial review of the hospital's decision not to retain him on its staff. Dr. Pontius also names in his suit four individual physicians who allegedly acted against him in ways violative of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1-7. Because the plaintiff has failed to raise any question of material fact suggesting that the hospital's decision violated the antitrust laws, the motion of defendant Children's Hospital for summary judgment must be granted. With respect to the individual defendants, the plaintiff has also failed to raise a genuine issue of fact which would permit a finding of a Sherman Act violation. Consequently, the individual defendants are likewise entitled to summary judgment.

I. The Parties

A. The Plaintiff

Robert G. Pontius, M.D., graduated from Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania in 1945, and from the Medical School, University of Pennsylvania in 1947. He interned at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from 1947 to 1948. He was an assistant instructor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine from 1948 to 1949. See Pontius Affidavit, Plaintiff Curriculum Vitae (Exhibit "A").

Dr. Pontius did his surgical residency at Jefferson Davis Hospital, Houston, Texas during 1949 to 1950. He was the Chief Resident at Jefferson Davis and Veteran's Administration Hospital from 1954 to 1955. He was a resident in the Thoracic Surgery Program at Baylor University College of Medicine and Affiliated Hospitals, Houston, Texas from 1955 to 1956. He was a Research Fellow in Surgery, The Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts from 1956 to 1957.

Dr. Pontius served in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1942 to 1945 and in the Navy Reserve during the Korean War. His medical career includes a considerable amount of scholarship. He has published thirty-three scholarly works. Notable among Dr. Pontius' coauthors are the famous Texas heart surgeons, Doctors Denton

552 F. Supp. 1357
A. Cooley and Michael DeBakey. Dr. Pontius also coauthored publications with two defendants in this action, Henry G. Bahnson, M.D. and James R. Zuberbuhler, M.D. Id.

Dr. Pontius has conducted thirty-five presentations to various seminars and professional meetings in the United States and Europe. He is the author, coauthor and producer of twelve motion pictures dealing with various adult and pediatric cardiovascular surgical topics. Dr. Cooley was a coauthor with Dr. Pontius of one of the motion pictures. In 1974 Dr. Pontius was the president of a chapter of the American College of Surgeons and president of a chapter of the American Heart Association in 1967.

In 1957 the late William B. Kiesewetter, M.D., Chief of Surgical Services at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, conducted a search for a qualified cardiovascular surgeon to do cardiac surgery on a full time basis. As a result of this inquiry, Children's Hospital hired Dr. Pontius.

B. The Defendants

1. Children's Hospital

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. As its name suggests, Children's Hospital is a specialized facility devoted to the care and treatment of young persons, generally those under seventeen years of age. See Robinson v. Magovern, 521 F.Supp. 842, 878 (W.D.Pa. 1981), aff'd mem., 688 F.2d 824 (3d Cir. 1982), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 103 S.Ct. 302, 74 L.Ed.2d 283 (1982). The hospital has acquired a national reputation, particularly in the field of organ transplantation.

2. Henry T. Bahnson, M.D.

Dr. Bahnson attended Davidson College and Harvard Medical School, graduating from the latter in 1944. He interned and took his residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He achieved board certification in general and thoracic surgery in 1953. Prior to 1963, when Dr. Bahnson joined the staff and faculty at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and Children's Hospital, he was on the staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1963 Dr. Bahnson came to Pittsburgh, taking his position as full professor and head of the department of surgery at the medical school. See generally Bahnson Deposition at 4-10.

3. Lenox D. Baker, M.D.

Dr. Baker attended Davidson College for two years before being accepted into Johns Hopkins Medical School, from which he graduated in 1966. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Pittsburgh from 1967 through 1972. Dr. Baker received board certification in general surgery in 1973 and thoracic surgery in 1974. Following his stay at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Baker put in two years of public service with the United States Public Health Service; first as assistant director of surgery at the medical center of the federal prison in Springfield, Missouri, later as chief of surgery at the Services' Indian Hospital in Talihina, Oklahoma. Following the completion of his public service, Dr. Baker practiced first in Phoenix and later in Norfolk, Virginia. While in Pittsburgh, Dr. Baker worked in Children's Hospital and had occasion to work with Dr. Pontius. See generally Baker Deposition at 3-13.

4. Thomas K. Oliver, M.D.

Dr. Oliver attended the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Medical School. He graduated from the latter in 1949. His internship and residency took place at Cornell University's New York Hospital Center. Dr. Oliver completed his training in 1955. He was board certified in pediatrics with a sub-specialty certification in neonatal/perinatal medicine.

Following the completion of his training, Dr. Oliver served on a two year research fellowship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. From 1955 to 1963 he was an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio

552 F. Supp. 1358
State University and on the staff of Children's Hospital of Columbus. From 1963 to 1970 he was a member of the faculty at the School of Medicine of the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1970 Dr. Oliver came to Pittsburgh as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the medical director of Children's Hospital. See generally Oliver Deposition at 4-8

5. James R. Zuberbuhler, M.D.

Dr. Zuberbuhler attended Allegheny College and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Following his graduation from medical school in 1956, Dr. Zuberbuhler started his residency in cardiology at the University of Michigan and finished it at the University of Pennsylvania. His residency was interrupted by military service. Dr. Zuberbuhler started part time work at Children's Hospital in 1961 and became a full time employee in 1963, at which time he also became an assistant professor in the medical school. Since 1967 he has held the post of Director of Cardiology at Children's Hospital. He is also a full professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. See generally Zuberbuhler Deposition at 4-9.

II. Statement of Facts

On December 5, 1957 Children's Hospital hired Dr. Robert G. Pontius as a full-time member of the medical staff to implement a program in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery. Simultaneously, Dr. Pontius received an appointment as Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. See Gaffney Deposition Exhibit No. 1 attached to the Appendix to the individual defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as Exhibit "A." (Unless otherwise indicated, all references to exhibits in this opinion refer to the exhibits attached to the foregoing appendix.) Under his contractual arrangement, which mirrored the arrangement of all full-time staff members, Dr. Pontius was paid a flat salary. See id. and Pontius Deposition at 22. In October of 1960 Dr. Pontius elected to terminate this contractual arrangement with Children's Hospital and enter private practice. Under this arrangement, Dr. Pontius received no compensation from Children's Hospital, but instead billed his fees directly to his patients. See Pontius Deposition at 23.

In 1963 Henry T. Bahnson, M.D. was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. See Bahnson Affidavit at ¶ 2. Over the objections of Dr. Pontius, he was also appointed to the staff at Children's Hospital. Dr. Pontius alone opposed the appointment. See Exhibit "A."

Around 1970 and 1971 Dr. Pontius began to make allegations of improper referrals of surgical patients to cardiovascular surgeons by cardiologists at Children's Hospital. When the complaints continued, Thomas K. Oliver, M.D., in his capacity as Medical Director at Children's Hospital, wrote to Dr. Pontius stating he had investigated the allegations and had found them totally...

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39 practice notes
  • Marrese v. Interqual, Inc., No. 83-1581
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • November 7, 1984
    ...restraint of trade and/or an attempt to monopolize trade in violation of the Sherman Act Secs. 1, 2. See Pontius v. Children's Hospital, 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1362-63 (W.D.Pa.1982); Kissam, Webber, Bigus & Holzgraefe, Antitrust and Hospital Privileges: Testing the Conventional Wisdom, 70 Cal.L.......
  • Miller v. Indiana Hosp., Civ. A. No. 81-1091.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • April 27, 1983
    ...at length because of the confusion and disagreement they have created among the lower courts. 80 But see Pontius v. Children's Hosp., 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1361 81 Where the Court's words are clear, we feel compelled to follow their plain meaning. 82 The cases involving medical staff privileges......
  • Ginzburg v. Memorial Healthcare Systems, Inc., Civil Action No. H-96-0907.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • December 24, 1997
    ...of Ginzburg's claims, it must "identify the market that defendants' alleged unlawful conduct affects." Pontius v. Children's Hosp., 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1365 (W.D.Pa.1982). Ginzburg proffered the testimony of her expert economist, Dr. Carol Bennett ("Bennett"), to prove that the "relevant prod......
  • Waldo v. North American Van Lines, Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-2668.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • September 4, 1987
    ...necessary here to embark upon an in-depth analysis of the relevant product and geographic markets, see Pontius v. Children's Hospital, 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1365-66, (W.D.Pa.1982), because plaintiff has failed to allege the tying of two products and/or services within the meaning of the Sherman......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
39 cases
  • Marrese v. Interqual, Inc., No. 83-1581
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • November 7, 1984
    ...restraint of trade and/or an attempt to monopolize trade in violation of the Sherman Act Secs. 1, 2. See Pontius v. Children's Hospital, 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1362-63 (W.D.Pa.1982); Kissam, Webber, Bigus & Holzgraefe, Antitrust and Hospital Privileges: Testing the Conventional Wisdom, 70 Cal.L.......
  • Miller v. Indiana Hosp., Civ. A. No. 81-1091.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • April 27, 1983
    ...at length because of the confusion and disagreement they have created among the lower courts. 80 But see Pontius v. Children's Hosp., 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1361 81 Where the Court's words are clear, we feel compelled to follow their plain meaning. 82 The cases involving medical staff privileges......
  • Ginzburg v. Memorial Healthcare Systems, Inc., Civil Action No. H-96-0907.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • December 24, 1997
    ...of Ginzburg's claims, it must "identify the market that defendants' alleged unlawful conduct affects." Pontius v. Children's Hosp., 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1365 (W.D.Pa.1982). Ginzburg proffered the testimony of her expert economist, Dr. Carol Bennett ("Bennett"), to prove that the "relevant prod......
  • Waldo v. North American Van Lines, Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-2668.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • September 4, 1987
    ...necessary here to embark upon an in-depth analysis of the relevant product and geographic markets, see Pontius v. Children's Hospital, 552 F.Supp. 1352, 1365-66, (W.D.Pa.1982), because plaintiff has failed to allege the tying of two products and/or services within the meaning of the Sherman......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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