Guinn v. Mount Carmel Health, No. 2:09-cv-229 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 29, 2013)
A non-employed African-American cardiologist sued a hospital and others due to the summary suspension and subsequent non-renewal of his electrophysiology privileges. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment on the physician’s employment discrimination claims based on the fact that he was not an employee of any of the defendants. However, the court will permit the cardiologist to attempt to prove a discrimination claim under both state and federal law based on: (i) the existence of a contractual relationship with the hospital; (ii) that a similarly situated medical staff member who was a non-minority was treated more favorably; and (iii) other non-minority physicians were given notice of investigations and were given the opportunity to address the committee, while the cardiologist was not.
The court dismissed the cardiologist’s claims of defamation and tortious interference against the hospital because the hospital qualified for HCQIA immunity. However, the court also ruled that the physician who initiated the investigation was not entitled to immunity. The court held that the initiating physician allegedly reported information that was false, and a reasonable jury might conclude that his action fell outside of peer review protection. The court also allowed the cardiologist’s defamation claim against this physician to stand, stating that a reasonable jury may find that the initiating physician’s alleged statements were not made in good faith.