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03/05/87 William Barrows, v. Northwestern Memorial

March 5, 1987





505 N.E.2d 1182, 153 Ill. App. 3d 83, 106 Ill. Dec. 391 1987.IL.262

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.


Justice Johnson delivered the opinion of the court. Linn and Campbell, JJ., concur.


Plaintiff, William Barrows, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing his complaint against defendants, Northwestern Memorial Hospital; John J. Boehm, chairman of the hospital's pediatrics service; James R. Hines, chief of staff at the hospital; and James A. Stockman III, chairman of the hospital's department of pediatrics. The court dismissed the complaint as being substantially insufficient at law in violation of section 2-615(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-615(a)).

We reverse and remand.

In determining whether to allow a motion to dismiss, a court must take allegations of fact contained in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences therefrom in the plaintiff's favor. (Cook v. Askew (1975), 34 Ill. App. 3d 1055, 1057, 341 N.E.2d 13, 15.) Plaintiff, a physician, alleged that defendants denied his application for staff privileges at the hospital although he had met all of the qualifications for admission to the staff.

Plaintiff alleged that he and a medical associate are pediatricians. They had a working relationship with a group of obstetrical-gynecological (ob-gyn) physicians; they would treat babies born to the patients of the ob-gyn physicians immediately after birth. In January 1984, defendants granted the ob-gyn physicians admission to the staff of Prentice Hospital, a facility which defendants operate; the ob-gyn physicians transferred their affiliation to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Plaintiff and his associate subsequently applied for admission to the staff of Northwestern Memorial. Plaintiff alleged that Boehm stated to Hines in a letter that the hospital's pediatrics department did not need another pediatrician of plaintiff's particular background and expertise. Defendants thereafter notified plaintiff that they denied his application for admission to the hospital staff. Plaintiff then complained to defendants that their bylaws allowed him to appear and to be heard. Defendants then granted plaintiff a meeting, after which they again denied his application.

Plaintiff further alleged that defendants based their denial of staff privileges on their unwritten rule: a physician receives staff privileges only if he or she has a business relationship with a doctor already on defendants' staff. As a result of this unwritten rule, defendants admitted two other physicians to the hospital staff with no better qualifications than those of plaintiff, at the same time that defendants denied plaintiff such privileges.

Plaintiff alleged in count I of the complaint that defendants were aware of the relationship between him and the ob-gyn physicians. He further alleged that defendants denied him admission to their staff in order to interfere with this relationship and to deprive him of his source of patients. Plaintiff also alleged that defendants conspired to deprive him of patients who would choose him to treat their children and that this conspiracy deprived him of his legitimate expectation of business relationships with those patients.

Count II of the complaint alleged that defendants' conduct limited the supply of pediatric services in Chicago and unreasonably restrained trade and commerce in the State, violating section 3 of the Illinois Antitrust Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 60-3). Plaintiff alleged in count III that defendants' unwritten rule controlling the granting of staff privileges violates the hospital's rules, regulations, and bylaws. Defendants' unwritten rule, thus, constitutes fraud on plaintiff. Count IV alleged that defendants' conduct also violated the public policy of Illinois, evidenced by section 3-4 of the Illinois Health Finance Reform Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 1/2, par. 6503-4) and Rule 3-1.1 of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Plaintiff sought an injunction preventing defendants from enforcing their unwritten rule and, based on the rule, refusing to admit him to their staff. Plaintiff further sought $15,000 in actual damages and an amount of punitive damages for the trial court to determine. Plaintiff also sought a finding of wilful conduct and treble ...

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