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05/12/95 JAMES BRYANT v. GLEN OAKS MEDICAL CENTER

May 12, 1995

JAMES BRYANT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
GLEN OAKS MEDICAL CENTER, F/K/A GLENDALE HEIGHTS COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. THE HONORABLE WILLIAM J. MADDUX, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Presiding Justice Cousins delivered the opinion of the court: Gordon and McNULTY, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cousins

PRESIDING JUSTICE COUSINS delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Dr. James Bryant, appeals from the trial court orders of: (1) March 15, 1993, which: (a) denied defendant, Glen Oaks Medical Center, f/k/a Glendale Heights Community Hospital, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment in its favor on plaintiff's claim for breach of contract; and (b) denied plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary judgment on his claim for breach of contract; and (2) August 30, 1993, which: (a) granted defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment in its favor on plaintiff's breach of contract claim; (b) denied plaintiff's renewed cross-motion for summary judgment on his breach of contract claim; (c) entered judgment in favor of defendant and dismissed the case with prejudice; and (d) determined that the order was final and that there was no just cause for delaying its enforcement. On appeal, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in not entering summary judgment for him, but rather for defendant, on his claim for breach of contract.

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a board-certified pathologist, duly licensed to practice medicine in the State of Illinois. Defendant is a not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Illinois which provides health care services to the public.

In late 1980, plaintiff applied and was accepted to be an active member of defendant's medical staff. At that time, plaintiff was named to the positions of chief pathologist and chairman of defendant's department of pathology. As chairman of defendant's department of pathology, plaintiff also became a member of the executive committee of defendant's medical staff.

On November 10, 1980, and again in the following year, plaintiff, by and through his professional services corporation, James Bryant, M.D., Ltd., entered into year-long contracts with Glendale Heights Community Hospital, defendant's predecessor, whereupon plaintiff became defendant's director of laboratory services. The contracts provided that either party could terminate the agreement without cause and that "should either party wish to terminate this agreement, both parties agree to give 30 days notice of their intention." After the expiration of the second contract on November 10, 1982, plaintiff continued, until January 11, 1985, as defendant's director of laboratory services without a formal written contract, but rather pursuant to an informal oral agreement. Both parties concede that after November 10, 1982, the nature of the parties' contractual relationship was under an at-will contract.

As defendant's director of laboratory services, plaintiff provided medico-administrative services to defendant and its patients. Plaintiff's medical staff membership and grant of clinical privileges to perform pathology were governed by a set of bylaws adopted by defendant's medical staff in January of 1984 and later approved by defendant's board of trustees. The bylaws define defendant's medical staff as "the formal organization of all licensed physicians *** who are privileged to attend patients in the hospital." Clinical privileges of persons on defendant's medical staff are defined by the bylaws as "the permission granted to a practitioner to render specific diagnostic, therapeutic, psychiatric, medical, dental, podiatric or surgical services." However, defendant's bylaws also provide that while members of the medical staff who are either employed by defendant or have a contractual relationship with defendant and have medico-administrative duties must be members of the medical staff, "medical staff membership is not contingent on continued employment or contractual arrangement."

In addition, article III, section 2, of the bylaws provides that no member of defendant's medical staff shall have his or her medical staff privileges terminated except in accordance with the bylaws. Article IV, section 1, of the bylaws governing the procedure for hearings and appellate review provides, in pertinent part:

"a. When any practitioner receives notice of a recommendation of the Executive Committee that, if ratified by decision of the governing body, will adversely affect his reappointment to or status as a member of the Medical Staff or his exercise of clinical privileges, he shall be entitled to a hearing ***.

b. When any practitioner receives notice of a decision by the governing body that will affect his reappointment to status as a member of the Medical Staff or his exercise of clinical privileges, and such decision is not based on a prior adverse recommendation by the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff *** the practitioner will then be entitled to an appellate review by the governing body ***."

This section also provides that, in order to exercise the right to a hearing:

"The practitioner requesting such a hearing or appellate review must do so in writing within fifteen 15 days after receipt of notice of governing body action. *** Failure to request a hearing or an appellate review within the specified time period ...


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