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Rutledge v. St. Vincent Memorial Hospital

FEBRUARY 1, 1966.

J.H. RUTLEDGE, M.D., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ST. VINCENT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, MOTHER MARY CATHERINE, SISTER MARY DOLORES, ET AL., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BOARD OF ST. VINCENT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Christian County; the Hon. R. DOVE, Judge, presiding. Order affirmed.

GOLDENHERSH, P.J.

Plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court of Christian County, seeking both equitable relief and money damages. In the verified count seeking equitable relief, as amended, he alleges that defendant, St. Vincent Memorial Hospital, is a not for profit corporation, the other named defendants are members of its Governing Board, certain by-laws were adopted by the medical staff of the defendant hospital and approved by its Governing Board, plaintiff, at the time of the adoption of the bylaws, was a member of defendant hospital's active staff and had been such member for 11 years, during his tenure on the active medical staff he has never been subject to any grievances against him before any body, private or public, on March 8, 1965, plaintiff received a letter from defendants advising him that his staff privileges would not be renewed, that the credentials committee of the medical staff of defendant hospital had recommended the reappointment of all members of the medical staff for the year 1965, and that the failure to reappoint plaintiff was "irrespective" of the recommendations of the credentials committee. The complaint also contains allegations that plaintiff has built up a substantial practice, the failure to reappoint him has caused him great damage, that the denial of staff privileges will cause him irreparable damage, and prays the issuance of a temporary injunction without notice and without bond, enjoining defendants from denying to plaintiff the use of the facilities of defendant hospital during the pendency of this suit, so long as plaintiff complies with the rules and regulations of defendant hospital. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant hospital has received large sums of money from the United States of America in the form of Hill-Burton funds, a grant from the State of Illinois, that it regularly receives payments from various governmental agencies for treatment rendered recipients of public assistance, and is the beneficiary of various tax exemptions available to non-profit or charitable corporations.

Defendants filed a motion "to strike and dismiss" wherein they state defendant hospital is a not for profit corporation, that the hospital is a charitable private institution operated by a Roman Catholic order of nuns, it is not a public hospital operated or maintained by any governmental agency, the receipt of public funds does not serve to make of defendant a public hospital, that plaintiff's staff privileges were not renewed because of plaintiff's failure to comply with the rules, regulations and standards adopted by the Governing Board of defendant hospital, that defendants have been advised that "in accordance with other provisions of said bylaws, rules and regulations, proceedings have been heretofore taken by the Credentials Committee, the Executive Committee, the Joint Conference and the Medical Staff, including a hearing at which the plaintiff was confronted with the charges made against him and given an opportunity to refute the same and as a result of all of which, it was recommended to the Governing Board the plaintiff be dismissed from the hospital's Medical Staff or in the alternative, that his Medical Staff privileges not be renewed upon their annual expiration on March 1, 1965." The motion concludes with the statement that the judgment and decisions of defendant hospital's Governing Board are not subject to judicial review, the circuit court is without jurisdiction to grant the injunctive relief prayed, and the law count seeking money damages does not state a justiciable cause of action.

The trial court set the cause for hearing on plaintiff's prayer for temporary injunction and defendants' motion to dismiss. No evidence was heard, the matter was considered on the pleadings, and the trial court, after filing a comprehensive memorandum, entered an order wherein it denied plaintiff's prayer for a temporary injunction, and denied defendants' motion "challenging the jurisdiction of this Court." Plaintiff appeals from the order denying his application for a temporary injunction. Since no cross appeal is prosecuted by defendants, the cause is before us on the sole issue of whether the trial court erred in denying the prayer for temporary injunction.

The bylaws, by reference incorporated in plaintiff's complaint, provide that medical staff appointments are made for one year, that at the end of the year the Governing Board, may, upon recommendations of the executive committee of the medical staff reappoint all medical staff members for a further period of one year. The bylaws contain the following provision, "Should the governing board wish to take the initiative on approving or refusing an applicant, it shall always so advise the medical staff, state its reasons, and ask for recommendations. Final responsibility for all appointments or cancellations will rest with the governing board."

[1-4] Whether a petition for a temporary injunction should be granted or denied, rests largely in the discretion of the trial court, O'Brien v. Matual, 14 Ill. App.2d 173, 144 N.E.2d 446. On appeal, the sole question presented is whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying the plaintiff temporary injunctive relief, Gifford v. Rich, 58 Ill. App.2d 405, 208 N.E.2d 47, and unless there has been such abuse of discretion, the order of the trial court will not be disturbed. H.K.H. Development Corp. v. Metropolitan Sanitary Dist., 47 Ill. App.2d 46, 196 N.E.2d 494. Since defendants filed no answer, the propriety of the order denying the injunction must be determined from the amended complaint, without consideration of what purport to be averments of fact in defendants' motion, and the well pleaded allegations of fact in the amended complaint must be taken as true. Dunne v. County of Rock Island, 273 Ill. 53, 112 NE 342.

Counsel have filed comprehensive briefs, citing cases from many jurisdictions, involving the question of the powers of the Governing Board of a hospital to select and appoint members of its medical staff, and whether, and in what manner, it may terminate the tenure of such staff members. The determination of these issues, is, to some extent, dependent upon whether the hospital is a public institution or a private charity, and whether the action complained of was taken in compliance with, or in violation of, the provisions of applicable bylaws. Since this case is not before us on the merits, our inquiry in this area is for the sole purpose of determining whether it is so apparent that plaintiff must ultimately prevail, that the denial of the petition for injunctive relief was an abuse of discretion.

The purpose of a temporary injunction is to maintain the status quo until the case can be decided on its merits. The status quo to be preserved is the last, actual, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy. O'Brien v. Matual, 14 Ill. App.2d 173, 144 N.E.2d 446. Applying this rule to the case before us, the plaintiff's last actual uncontested status prior to the inception of the controversy was that of a member of the defendant hospital's staff, by virtue of an appointment which admittedly was for one year. Opposed to his claim of right to continue in that status is the defendants' contention that the bylaws of defendant hospital, quoted above, rest final responsibility for the appointment of staff members with the Governing Board, and even though provision is made for requesting the recommendations of the medical staff, such recommendations are, at most, advisory, and need not be followed. We have not discussed the foregoing issues and contentions for the purpose of purporting to decide this matter on the merits, but to demonstrate the presence of issues which can be determined only after trial.

In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that the defendant hospital is the only hospital in Taylorville, that by reason of the denial of the use of defendant hospital's facilities, his practice is curtailed and he will suffer irreparable damage unless the injunction is issued. Unquestionably the loss of staff privileges has caused plaintiff inconvenience, and probably, loss of income, but we cannot hold that this fact, of itself, would require the trial court to enjoin the defendants from refusing to reappoint plaintiff to the staff of the defendant hospital. The bylaws provide that "final responsibility" for such action rests with the Governing Board, and the issuance of a temporary injunction would, in effect, determine for the Governing Board the manner in which that responsibility is to be discharged.

On the basis of the record before us, we are not prepared to say that the refusal to issue a temporary injunction was an abuse of the trial court's discretion, and the order of the Circuit Court of Christian County is affirmed.

Order affirmed.

MORAN, J., concurs.

EBERSPACHER, J., dissenting.

In his verified complaint, plaintiff further alleged that the defendant hospital is the only hospital in the Taylorville community and the only facility available to patients of plaintiff who may be in need of emergency treatment, hospital care and laboratory treatment, and that by reason of the denial of the use of defendant's hospital facilities his practice is curtailed and he will suffer irreparable damage unless the injunction is issued. Unquestionably the loss of staff privileges has caused plaintiff inconvenience, and probably, loss of income; as well as ...


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