Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. John
A. Gorman, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE HEIPLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is the second appeal involving plaintiff's staff privileges at St. Anthony Hospital in Rockford. A detailed explanation of the events relating to plaintiff's first appeal may be found in the opinion of the Fourth District Appellate Court which is reported at 120 Ill. App.3d 1090. (Maimon I). Only those facts necessary to the resolution of this appeal will be set forth.
Essentially, the first appeal involved events culminating in the decision by the board of managers of St. Anthony Hospital (St. Anthony's) on March 17, 1982. On that date, the board voted to affirm the expulsion of Currie Maimon, M.D. (plaintiff), from the hospital staff effective April 1, 1982. The vote followed action taken by the credentials committee and an ad hoc committee selected from the entire medical staff, pursuant to the hospital bylaws.
On March 30, 1982, plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court of McLean County against the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis (St. Francis), an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, seeking injunctive and other relief arising from the expulsion of plaintiff from the staff of St. Anthony's. St. Francis operates several hospitals in Illinois, one of which is St. Anthony's. Following entry of a preliminary injunction, both parties filed motions for summary judgment.
On February 7, 1983, the circuit court granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and ordered that the hospital be permanently enjoined from expelling plaintiff, or interfering in any way with his staff privileges, based on matters presented to the ad hoc committee.
The hospital appealed the decision to the Appellate Court, Fourth District. On December 30, 1983, our Fourth District court reversed, finding that the injunction was improvidently granted. The court stated at the outset of its opinion that judicial review of a reduction or expulsion of hospital staff privileges is limited to the question of whether the procedures employed were in accordance with hospital bylaws. The court found there was no bylaw violation or inequitable treatment of plaintiff, and remanded the case with directions to the trial court to enter summary judgment for the defendant.
On February 3, 1984, plaintiff filed a petition for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Illinois. The application was denied on April 3, 1984.
This appeal involves events culminating with the posting of a memorandum on May 6, 1983, announcing the termination of plaintiff's staff privileges at St. Anthony's. In response to plaintiff's application for reappointment, the credentials committee, on May 5, 1983, sent a letter recommending to the medical staff that he not be reappointed.
In their letter, the credentials committee advised that in the course of formulating the recommendation not to reappoint, it had concluded that plaintiff's medical staff privileges terminated at the close of the 1982 medical staff year. The committee also advised that no temporary privileges were subsequently awarded. The letter specifically stated that, by copy of this letter, the administrator of the hospital, Kevin Schoeplein, would be notified of this determination.
On May 6, 1983, Schoeplein directed that a notice addressed to emergency room personnel, admitting personnel, centralized scheduling personnel and nursing coordinators be posted. The memo stated:
"Effective May 6, 1983, Dr. Maimon has no admitting or clinical privileges at St. Anthony Hospital Medical Center. No patients shall be admitted or treated by Dr. Maimon. If any of Dr. Maimon's patients present themselves to your area, notify the nursing coordinator on duty who will follow through with Dr. Peterson, Chief of Staff for providing care for these patients."
On October 10, 1983, the board of managers, following the recommendation by the medical staff to reject plaintiff's application for reappointment, denied the plaintiff's application.
Plaintiff then instituted this action against St. Francis. The complaint also named as defendants, Kevin Schoeplein and Douglas Bruce, both of whom were hospital administrators. Count I of the complaint sought declaratory, injunctive and other relief. It alleged that: (1) the reappointment procedure violated the hospital bylaws; (2) that the act by Schoeplein in posting the May 6, 1983, memo was done without authority; and (3) that there was a lack of proof that his treatment of a patient was done at an unacceptable level.
Count II sought compensatory and punitive damages against the hospital and Schoeplein for libel per se resulting from the memorandum of May 6, 1983. The plaintiff alleged that the imputation arising from the memo was that plaintiff was incompetent and unfit to practice medicine and that such imputation was ...