Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Guerriero v. Merit Lincoln Park

October 22, 2008

VITTORIO GUERRIERO, M.D. AND GREGORY C. NACOPOULOS, D.O., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MERIT LINCOLN PARK, LLC, GREGORY A. CIERLIK, WILLIAM S. MARKEY, M.D., MARIA M. MUNOZ, M.D., CHRISTOS A. GALANOPOULOS, M.D., GEORGE I. SALTI, M.D., GEORGE ENGEL, M.D., HOWARD A. MORITZ, M.D., CHRISTINE BRADY, R.N., ERHARD R. CHORLÉ, AND LYNN A. ELLENBERGER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Merit Lincoln Park, LLC, Gregory Cierlik, William Markey, Maria Munoz, Christos Galanopoulos, George Salti, George Engel, Howard Moritz, and Christine Brady (hereinafter, the "LLC Defendants") and a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Erhard Chorlé and Lynn Ellenberger (hereinafter, the "Attorney Defendants").

In a Complaint filed on March 25, 2008, Plaintiffs Vittorio Guerriero and Gregory Nacopoulos (hereinafter, the "Plaintiffs" or "Guerriero" and "Nacopoulos," respectively) asserted multiple common law and statutory claims related to the alleged revocation of their hospital privileges and the subsequent peer review proceedings. Plaintiffs originally brought this action in state court, and Defendants removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In their current motions, Defendants set forth similar arguments that the Complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because all claims are barred by res judicata or were improperly pled. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Court derives the following facts from the pleadings, including all attached documents. The Court resolves all reasonable inferences and factual conflicts in Plaintiffs' favor.

During the relevant time, Plaintiffs, surgeons and partners, practiced medicine at Lincoln Park Hospital (hereinafter, "LPH"). On January 20, 2005, Defendant Galanopoulos, former Chair of Surgery at LPH, informed Plaintiffs that they no longer had privileges to perform gynecological surgery at LPH. Plaintiffs assert that this decision violated the hospital bylaws regarding peer review proceedings and was an ineffective removal of their privileges. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that they were not given written notice and an opportunity for a hearing required by the bylaw to remove privileges from any physician.

On January 21, 2005, Guerriero performed surgery on a 69-year-old female patient to remove an abdominal tumor, and, in the process of this surgery, Guerriero excised an ovary. Shortly after this surgery, Guerriero received a letter from Defendant Markey, Medical Staff President at LPH, suspending his hospital privileges and notifying him of a hearing. After multiple peer review hearings at LPH, Guerriero's suspension was upheld.

Nacopoulos heard nothing more about the decision on January 20, 2005, in which his gynecological privileges purportedly were removed. In a letter dated October 23, 2006, LPH informed Nacopoulos that all of his privileges, including gynecological, were renewed.

On April 13, 2006, Guerriero brought suit against Defendant Merit Lincoln Park, LLC, owner and operator of LPH, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, in Guerriero v. Merit Lincoln Park, Court No. 06 CH 7454. Guerriero alleged breach of contract and judicial review/bad faith peer review in connection with the revocation of his privileges. On October 11, 2006, the Chancery Court ordered LPH to provide Guerriero a hearing as provided for in LPH's bylaw. See Oct. 11, 2006 Order, Ex. E. to LLC Defs' Mem. On November 8, 2006, LPH appealed this decision. On February 22, 2007, the parties executed a Release and Settlement Agreement (the "Release"). See Release, Ex. G to LLC Defs' Mem. In the Release, Guerriero agreed not to file "any claims . . . against the Hospital in any court . . . arising out of or relating to Guerriero's medical staff membership and clinical privileges at the Hospital to date. . . ." Id. at ¶ 3(b). The Release also provided that:

Guerriero, for himself and his agents, . . . does hereby irrevocably and unconditionally release and forever discharge the Hospital and each of its predecessors, successors, and assigns ("Released Parties"), from all actions, causes of actions, suits . . . of any nature whatsoever, including without limitation, the Pending Claims . . ., against the Released Parties arising out of and/or relating to any event, act or omission which took place on or before the date of this Agreement, including, without limitation, any claims that Guerriero may have relating to, arising out of, or connected with his membership on the medical staff of the Hospital, termination of said membership, or failure of the Hospital to renew said membership.

Id. at ¶ 3(c).

On March 25, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a nine-count Complaint against Defendants Merit Lincoln Park, several doctors and a nurse on staff at LPH, the past chief executive officer and past president of LPH, and two attorneys who served as LPH's counsel during peer review proceedings regarding the suspension of Guerriero's privileges and the subsequent state court case against LPH. Plaintiffs claim that Defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme to revoke Guerriero's privileges at LPH and, in the process, injured Nacopoulos. The Complaint alleges common law fraud (Count I), tortious interference with bylaws (Count II), tortious interference with Guerriero's relationships with LPH and other hospitals (Count III), denial of right to a fair hearing (Count IV), civil conspiracy (Count V), aiding and abetting by attorneys (Count VI), violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq) (Count VII) (hereinafter, "RICO"), and conspiracy to violate RICO (Count VIII). The Complaint also alleges that Nacopoulos was damaged as a result of the wrongful revocation of his gynecological privileges at LPH and the loss of Guerriero's privileges (Count IX). Defendants now move to dismiss all Counts in the Complaint.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in a light favorable to the plaintiff. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). "A complaint must always, . . . allege 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,'" Limestone Development Corp. v. Village of Lemont, Ill., 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir., 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1974). To avoid dismissal, the "allegations must plausibly suggest that the defendant ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.