Presbyterian University Hosp. v. Wilson, 632

Citation99 Md.App. 305,637 A.2d 486
Decision Date01 September 1993
Docket NumberNo. 632,632
Parties, 89 Ed. Law Rep. 475 PRESBYTERIAN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL v. Joyce WILSON, et al. ,
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Page 305

99 Md.App. 305
637 A.2d 486, 89 Ed. Law Rep. 475
Joyce WILSON, et al.
No. 632, Sept. Term, 1993.
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
Feb. 24, 1994.
Certiorari Granted June 29, 1994.

[637 A.2d 488]

Page 308

Larry A. Silverman (Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C., Pittsburgh, PA, and George M. Church, (Church & Houff, P.A., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Daniel F. Goldstein (Rachel A. Wohl, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, John S. Singleton and Gendler, Berg & Singleton, P.A., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellees.

Argued before WILNER, C.J., ALPERT, J., and JAMES S. GETTY, Judge (Retired), Specially Assigned.

ALPERT, Judge.

In this case of first impression, we are asked to decide whether a Maryland court has jurisdiction over a Pennsylvania hospital that provided services to a Maryland resident in Pennsylvania.

Hugh Wilson ("Mr. Wilson") needed a liver transplant. He was insured through his wife's policy with Chesapeake Health Plan, a health maintenance organization ("HMO"). When his ailment was discovered during a routine physical examination, he was referred to Dr. Martin B. Cooper, a specialist. Dr. Cooper concluded that Mr. Wilson needed a "prompt liver transplant." Mr. Wilson's health started deteriorating rapidly in the summer of 1985. Accordingly, Joyce Wilson ("appellee" or "Mrs. Wilson") contacted her HMO about obtaining a liver transplant for her husband. She was told the HMO did not cover such a procedure. Mrs. Wilson then contacted Maryland Medical Assistance ("MA") and was informed that MA would cover such a liver transplant upon qualifying. She was required as a first step to have Dr. Cooper call MA's authorizing doctor. Dr. Cooper, however, suggested to Mrs. Wilson

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that he would ascertain whether coverage could be obtained through her HMO. On August 23, 1985, Dr. Cooper called Dr. Thomas Starzl, the head of the liver transplant division of Presbyterian University Hospital ("PUH"), a hospital located in Pittsburgh, regarding Mr. Wilson's condition. Dr. Starzl informed Dr. Cooper that he should have Mr. Wilson come to PUH for admission the following Monday (i.e., August 26, 1985). According to Mrs. Wilson, Donna Rinaldo, a PUH social worker, called the Wilson family the same day. The Wilsons, however, were not at home. Mrs. Wilson returned that call and she, along with Ms. Rinaldo, made arrangements for the Wilson family to travel to Pittsburgh. Mr. Wilson arrived in Pittsburgh on Sunday, August 25, 1985.

Mr. Wilson was not admitted to PUH the following day because Mr. Berkowitz, a PUH credit administrator, told the admitting office that Mr. Wilson's operation was not covered. Because his health was deteriorating, Mr. Wilson was admitted to PUH's emergency room on August 28, 1985 and remained in the hospital until his demise on September 6, 1985. He never received a liver transplant.

Mrs. Wilson brought suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, individually and on behalf of her two daughters, against PUH and others 1 alleging, inter alia, breach of contract, negligence, and misrepresentation. PUH filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After limited discovery pertaining solely to the jurisdictional issue, Mrs. Wilson filed her opposition to the motion to dismiss, contending that PUH's contacts within Maryland supported jurisdiction. Following oral argument, the court denied the motion. The appellee settled with the five Maryland defendants. Subsequently, PUH filed cross-claims against the Maryland defendants and also filed several third-party claims.

Page 310

PUH then requested, and was granted, leave to file a motion for summary judgment based on lack of personal jurisdiction. In support, PUH stated that:

1. It is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation which provides health care services[637 A.2d 489] to patients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

2. It owns no property in Maryland, does not maintain any office or place of business in Maryland, has never been and is not currently licensed or authorized to do business in Maryland, and does not have any agents in Maryland for service of process.

3. It sells no products and provides no services in Maryland, has no telephone listings or bank accounts in Maryland, pays no taxes in Maryland, and derives no income from services provided in Maryland.

4. It has not and does not advertise its services in Maryland.

Appellee asserted jurisdiction on the ground that the hospital was registered as a Maryland Medical Assistance ("MA") provider and was designated as a Maryland Transplant Referral Center. She maintained that PUH solicited business in Maryland, not through advertising, but through a seven-year persistent course of conduct and that Mr. Wilson's injuries were directly related to PUH's contacts within Maryland. After a hearing, PUH's motion was denied.

PUH filed an interlocutory appeal which was dismissed for lack of final judgment. PUH stipulated to a voluntary dismissal, with prejudice, of its cross and third-party claims in exchange for the appellee's agreement to reduce any jury verdict rendered against PUH. Appellee's suit proceeded to trial before a Baltimore City jury presided over by Judge Thomas E. Noel. At the close of the evidence, PUH moved unsuccessfully for judgment due to lack of personal jurisdiction. The jury rendered a verdict against PUH and judgment was entered. This appeal followed. The appellant presents this issue for our consideration:

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Did the trial court err in finding that the Maryland courts could exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident hospital (PUH) which provided services outside the forum to a Maryland resident?

We conclude that the court did not err and accordingly affirm.

Motion to Dismiss

As a preliminary matter, we address appellee's motion to dismiss this appeal. The motion is based on the fact that, in its brief, appellant has complained only about the denial of its motion for summary judgment and has taken no account of the evidence presented at trial bearing on its contacts with Maryland or of the court's denial of its motion for judgment at the end of the trial. Appellee asserts that under the authority of Metropolitan Mtge. Fund, Inc. v. Basiliko, 288 Md. 25, 415 A.2d 582 (1980), we are prohibited from considering the correctness of a denial of summary judgment after final judgment is entered. Alternatively, appellee contends that under Basiliko, we must limit our review to a determination of whether the trial judge abused his discretion in denying the motion for summary judgment.

PUH contends that the denial of the motion for summary judgment is reviewable on appeal. Specifically, PUH states that Md. Rule 8-131(d) permits an appeal of an interlocutory order after a final judgment has been entered. PUH also asserts that Basiliko is inapposite because there the summary judgment motion addressed factual issues which, after denial of the motion, were submitted for the fact-finder's determination. In the instant case, however, the order denying summary judgment motion addressed a legal issue (i.e., whether PUH could be subjected to the jurisdiction of Maryland courts).

The Meaning of Basiliko

Essentially, Basiliko arose out of a garden-variety factual dispute. Metropolitan Mortgage Fund, Inc. alleged that the Basilikos breached certain guaranty agreements, which allegedly were signed as additional security for two notes and a

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deed of trust. Upon being sued for the deficiency arising out of the foreclosure of the deed of trust, the Basilikos responded to Metropolitan's motion for summary judgment with an affidavit purporting "to allege the existence of a dispute with respect to relevant facts between the parties." But after some further skirmishing, Metropolitan's motions for summary judgment were denied by the trial court and, subsequent to that denial, the [637 A.2d 490] Basilikos filed a plea denying execution of a note payment agreement. At a non-jury trial, the trial judge found as a fact that the Basilikos had not signed the "note payment agreement" and entered judgment for costs in their favor. We affirmed that judgment on Metropolitan's appeal to this court. The Court of Appeals granted certiorari, "restricted, however, to determining the scope of appellate review of the denial of a summary judgment motion following the entry of a final judgment on the merits."

The late Judge J. Dudley Digges explained the purpose and limitations of summary judgment procedure:

It is essential to the entry of a summary judgment that there be no dispute as to any material fact. The procedure is not a substitute for a trial, but is merely a preview to determine whether there exists a factual controversy requiring a trial. Impala Platinum v. Impala Sales, 283 Md. 296, 326, 389 A.2d 887, 904-05 (1978); White v. Friel, 210 Md. [274,] 285-86, 123 A.2d [303,] 308 [ (1956) ]. Thus, while [former] Md. Rule 610 d 1 states that when a movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the court should render judgment forthwith, this does not mean that entry of judgment may not be delayed until after a trial on the merits, should, in the court's mind, the promotion of justice require it. See Dev. Sales Co. v. McWilliams, 254 Md. 673, 677, 255 A.2d 1, 3-4 (1969); Jacobson v. Julian, 246 Md. 549, 553-54, 229 A.2d 108, 112 (1967). It is our view that an appellate court should be loath indeed to overturn, on a very narrow procedural ground, a final judgment on the merits entered in favor of the party resisting the summary judgment motion. This is aptly demonstrated by the present case where, after a full evidentiary hearing, the court determined

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that respondents' signatures to the guarantee agreements were not genuine. To turn the tables in this manner would be nothing short of substituting a known unjust result for a known just one.

* * * * * *

Consequently, we now hold that a denial (as...

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