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GREEN v. SILVER CROSS HOSP.

November 9, 1984

SPURGEON GREEN, M.D., PLAINTIFF,
v.
SILVER CROSS HOSPITAL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This Court's December 7, 1983 opinion rejected defendants' Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Green's federal claims advanced in Complaint Counts I and II. Now various of the individual doctor defendants have moved (1) for summary judgment on the pendent state law claims in Counts VIII through XIV and (2) to dismiss the pendent claim in Count XV. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order:

    1. Summary judgment is granted as to Counts
  VIII through XIV, which are dismissed with
  prejudice.
    2. Green is given leave to amend Count XV as
  proposed in his response to the motion to dismiss
  that count (subject however to the application to
  Count XV of the principles expressed in this
  opinion as to the other counts).

Facts

Green complains of allegedly racially-motivated, invidiously discriminatory revocation of his staff privileges at Silver Cross. Complaint Counts VIII through XIV charge seven of the Silver Cross staff physicians with defamatory statements impugning Green's competence as a doctor. Count XV says Silver Cross and the individual defendants engaged in conduct interfering with Green's justified business expectations as a practitioner.

Though all the individual physicians named in Counts VIII through XIV filed what they label as motions for summary judgment, their supporting affidavits do not even address the truth or falsity of their statements the Complaint charges as false and defamatory. Instead they say only the statements were made as testimony at an April 14, 1983 hearing before Silver Cross's Credentials Committee, which met at that time to consider the prior suspension of Green's hospital privileges.

Defendants' Summary Judgment Motions

Defendants' motions for summary judgment were really ill-advised. Rule 56 is not designed for a motion addressing only one or more issues in a separate claim, as distinct from the claim itself. SFM Corp. v. Sundstrand Corp., 102 F.R.D. 555, 558-59 (N.D.Ill. 1984). Rather summary judgment is supposed to be a substitute for trial where no questions of credibility or other factual disputes pose "a genuine issue as to any material fact" (Rule 56(c)). 10 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure. Civil 2d § 2712, at 564-67 & 567 n. 6 (1983). To the same effect, see the Advisory Committee on Rules comment on the 1963 amendment to Rule 56(e):

  The very mission of the summary judgment
  procedure is to pierce the pleadings and to
  assess the proof in order to see whether there is
  a genuine need for trial.

It is therefore the movant's obligation to support its motion by advancing all the relevant facts, without holding back evidence that would be presented at trial. Keene Corp. v. International Fidelity Insurance Co., 561 F. Supp. 656, 665-66 (N.D.Ill. 1983) (on motion for reconsideration), adopted and affirmed 736 F.2d 388, 393 (7th Cir. 1984).

For those reasons, had this Court disagreed with defendants' position as to the Illinois Medical Studies Act (the "Act") dealt with hereafter, defendants might well have been foreclosed from disputing the falsity of their statements about Green. Of course they did not intend any such result, but fortunately this Court does not have to decide that question in light of its conclusion as to the scope of the Act. That misperception by defendants' counsel, and the matching errors by Green's counsel (see n. 3), have been just another illustration of a frequently-encountered phenomenon — a fundamental misunderstanding of what summary judgment practice is really about.

This opinion turns to the issue on which defendants thus staked their all (though they did not mean to): the effect of the Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. ...


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