R. Sherwin Parungao, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Community Health Systems, Inc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
April 26, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:15-cv-04453 -
Robert W. Gettleman, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Ripple and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
the fourth lawsuit that Dr. R. Sherwin Parungao, a surgeon,
has brought against affiliates of Galesburg Cottage Hospital.
The district court ruled that Dr. Parungao's complaint
was barred by res judicata and Illinois's closely related
single-refiling rule. Because we agree that this suit
violates the doctrine of res judicata, we affirm the district
Parungao began practicing surgery at Galesburg Cottage
Hospital in 2006. He first worked as a private practitioner,
but later accepted employment with Knox Clinic, which
supplies doctors for the hospital. Knox Clinic told Dr.
Parungao in May 2013 that it was discharging him without
cause, as allowed under his employment agreement. Dr.
Parungao believes that the hospital orchestrated this
discharge to harm his career. He asserts that before Knox
Clinic fired him, the hospital's medical executive
committee manipulated the peer-review process to insinuate
that he had performance problems and make it difficult for
him to secure future employment. Dr. Parungao later resigned
from Galesburg and sought other employment, but alleges that
he was thwarted in those efforts by the hospital and its
not the first time Dr. Parungao has attempted to recover
based on these, or similar, allegations. His first suit
against Galesburg Cottage Hospital and its corporate
affiliates was voluntarily dismissed. See Doe v. Cmty.
Health Sys. Prof'l Servs. Corp., Galesburg Hosp. Corp.,
& Knox Clinic Corp., No. 2013-CH-73 (Knox Cty, 111.
Cir. Ct, filed July 15, 2013). The day after he voluntarily
dismissed that action, Dr. Parungao filed another petition in
the same court, requesting to refile the case under seal and
under a fictitious name. That petition was denied, so no
complaint or suit was filed. Dr. Parungao then brought
another suit in state court against the chief of the medical
staff at Galesburg, Dr. Daniel K. Piper. See Parungao v.
Piper, No. 2013-L-40 (Knox Cry., 111. Cir. Ct, filed
Oct. 21, 2013). Because this appeal and the defense of res
judicata rest on the relationship between the Piper
litigation and Dr. Parungao's current federal lawsuit, we
briefly compare the allegations set forth in the two relevant
October 2013, Dr. Parungao sued Dr. Piper for defamation in
circuit court in Knox County, Illinois. That lawsuit focused
on the time during which Dr. Parungao sought employment at
other hospitals after he resigned from Galesburg. He alleged
that Dr. Piper had made false and harmful representations to
hospital entities with which he sought employment. These
representations, made in letters bearing Galesburg Cottage
Hospital letterhead, suggested to those entities that Dr.
Parungao had been the subject of some type of nondisciplinary
action related to his professional conduct. The relevant
allegations from the Piper complaint are set forth
7. Although Dr. Parungao's privileges to practice at GCH
[Galesburg Cottage Hospital] remained intact, Dr. Parungao
ceased performing surgeries at GCH on or about May 15, 2013,
and he thereafter sought employment elsewhere.
8. On or about May 28, 2013, Dr. Piper represented to Gaye
Shaw, Director of Medical Staff Affairs at St. Mary's
Hospital in Centralia, Illinois (collectively "St.
Mary's") that he was authorized to respond to a
request by St. Mary's for verification of Dr.
Parungao's staff privileges and credentials at GCH.
9. On or about May 28, 2013, Dr. Piper represented to Natalie
Brown, Medical Staff Coordinator at Weatherby Locums in Fort
Lauderdale, Florida (collectively "Weatherby") that
he was authorized to respond to a request by Weatherby for
verification of Dr. Parungao's staff privileges and
credentials at GCH.
10. Dr. Piper informed St. Mary's and Weatherby that Dr.
Parungao was not the subject of any disciplinary action as a
member of the Medical Staff, he was the subject of
"other action" as a result of an ongoing review
related to his participation in an impaired practitioner
11. Dr. Piper defined "other action" as ...