Toussaint v. Laurens County Health Care System, 88-3903

Decision Date25 July 1988
Docket NumberNo. 88-3903,88-3903
Citation857 F.2d 1469,1988 WL 92900
PartiesUnpublished Disposition NOTICE: Fourth Circuit I.O.P. 36.6 states that citation of unpublished dispositions is disfavored except for establishing res judicata, estoppel, or the law of the case and requires service of copies of cited unpublished dispositions of the Fourth Circuit. Vincent S. TOUSSAINT, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. LAURENS COUNTY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, and Russell Emerson, Edward M. Corley, Walter A. Sigman, W. Paul Culbertson, L.W. McClain, Michael R. Meeks, James L. Walker, Reese Young, James G. Ferguson, W.M. Wiley, individually and in their official capacity as members of the Board of Directors of Bailey Memorial Hospital, and; Clem P. Ham, individually and in his official capacity as Administrator of Bailey Memorial Hospital, and; Akhtar Hussain, M.D., individually and in his official capacity as Chief of the Medical Staff at Bailey Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Executive Committee of Bailey Memorial Hospital, and; Bruce Marshall, M.D., individually and in his official capacity as a member of the Executive Committee of Bailey Memorial Hospital and as Chief of Service for Pediatrics at Bailey Memorial Hospital, and; Stephen Ramsay, M.D., individually and in his official capacity as a member of the Executive Committee of Bailey Memorial Hospital and as Chief of Service for Pediatrics at Bailey Memorial Hospital, and; Arvin Raheja, M.D., individually and in his official capacity as Chief of service for both Surgery and Obstetrics at Bailey Memorial Hospital, Defendants-Appellees. . Argued:
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Pamela Larkin Mims (Cameron B. Littlejohn, Jr., Lewis, Babcock, Pleicones & Hawkins; Randall M. Chastain, University of South Carolina School of Law, on brief), for appellant.

John Michael Turner (Culbertson, Whitesides & Turner; C. Dewey Oxner, III, Haynsworth, McKay & Guerard, on brief), for appellees.

Before DONALD RUSSELL, WIDENER and K.K. HALL, Circuit Judges.


This is an action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, by a physician asserting a due process violation by a publicly-owned hospital for suspending his hospital staff privileges for a period of thirty days on two separate occasions. The case was heard by the district judge without a jury. The district judge made extensive findings of fact and stated conclusions of law. On the basis of these findings of fact and conclusions of law, he granted judgment in favor of the defendants. From that judgment this appeal is prosecuted. We affirm.

The plaintiff is a certified surgeon. Since 1976 he has resided in Clinton, South Carolina, and has been during all that time a member of the medical staff at the Bailey Memorial Hospital, then a publicly-owned and operated hospital in Clinton known as the Bailey Memorial Hospital and now a part of the Laurens (County, South Carolina) Hospital County Health Care System (hereinafter Laurens), owned by Laurens County, a political entity of the State. During his years on the staff, he has had a number of disputes with the hospital and its medical staff over his acts as a member of the staff. Five of these disputes resulted in orders of suspension of his hospital privileges for short periods of time and one an order of restriction placed on his medical activities in certain areas at the hospital. The first of these incidents was in January, 1981, when the staff privileges of the plaintiff and another physician were summarily suspended, an action which on appeal was lifted with a continuing admonition that the two should "exercise greater care on future admissions to insure that the medical needs of the patients were being adequately met." The second incident in mid-July, 1983, involved a summary suspension, which was again lifted after a hearing followed by a release by the plaintiff of Laurens and all parties of any claim on account of this suspension. In April, 1986, the plaintiff was given a summary suspension which lasted three days. When plaintiff's appeal was heard, the suspension was lifted. This suspension arose out of a charge of another physician and staff member, complaining of an alleged unauthorized and unprofessional interference by the plaintiff in the case of a patient under the care of the complaining physician. There was also a complaint about the plaintiff's treatment of newborn babies. It was suggested that some restriction be placed on the plaintiff in his treatment of new-born babies but this suggestion was never actually implemented. This review brings us to the two incidents, occurring in latter-1986, which led to the filing of this action and which are the real subject of the action.

The plaintiff performed, in November, 1986, three mastectomies on three teen-age males. It was charged that plaintiff had violated traditional medical standards of care in performing and reporting such operations. An ad hoc committee was appointed to investigate the charge. The committee had a hearing at which the plaintiff appeared and was heard. The committee recommended a 30-day suspension because the plaintiff had allegedly failed to conform with recognized standards of care and reporting. The plaintiff was advised of this action.

About one month later, following an inquiry by the County Coroner, the administrator of the hospital filed a request for corrective action against plaintiff. The administrator's complaint involved a patient, Sally Hunter, who was admitted to the hospital with a head injury and in a heavily inebriated and boisterous condition. The plaintiff prescribed medication for the patient over the telephone but did not come to the hospital to see the patient. Later on the night of the patient's admission, a hospital nurse called the plaintiff about the patient's disruptive conduct. Without seeing the patient, the plaintiff directed the discharge of the patient. Several hours after her discharge, the patient died. The plaintiff was notified that a further suspension of 30 days would be imposed for this alleged failure. The plaintiff at this point filed this action, and the suspensions under the two charges were never implemented.

The plaintiff has filed three complaints stating alleged violations of his substantive and procedural due process rights of the Federal Anti-trust Act, and of the Federal and State Trade Acts, as well as actions for...

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  • Freilich v. Bd. of Dir. of Upper Chesapeake Health
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • May 14, 2001
    ...The subjectives of selection simply cannot be minutely codified." Id. at 176. See also Toussaint v. Laurens County Health Care System, 857 F.2d 1469, 1988 WL 92900 (4th Cir.1988) (quoting Sosa and finding that county hospital did not deprive physician of substantive or procedural due proces......

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