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Miller v. Indiana Hosp.

filed: April 19, 1991.

RALPH J. MILLER, M.D., APPELLANT,
v.
INDIANA HOSPITAL, A CORPORATION; HENRY F. HILD; DONALD F. SMITH; WILLIAM R. MCMILLEN; JOHN S. SIMPSON; THOMAS S. BARBOR; SAMUEL W. JACK, JR.; MRS. C. FRED HILDEBRAND; MRS. WANDA M. WEYANDT; HARRY C. MCCREARY; C. WILMER JOHNSTON; GEORGE M. EVANS; DONALD S. BRODY; ROGER J. RESCHINI; JOSEPH KOVALCHICK; WILLIAM G. EVANS, M.D.; MELVIN C. WILLIAMS, M.D.; ROBERT G. GOLDSTROHM, M.D.; DAVID C. HUGHES, M.D.; RALPH F. WALDO, M.D.; HERBERT L. HANNA, M.D.; RICHARD N. FREDA, M.D.; FRANK WEINER, M.D.; HENRY MITCHELL, M.D.; RALPH R. BROWN, M.D.; COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH; H. ARNOLD MULLER, M.D., APPELLEES



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania; D.C. Civil No. 81-01091.

Dolores K. Sloviter, Chief Judge,*fn* Scirica and Alito, Circuit Judges.

Author: Alito

Opinion OF THE COURT

ALITO, Circuit Judge

This case presents the question whether the doctrine of state-action antitrust immunity recognized in Parker v. Brown, 317 U.S. 341, 87 L. Ed. 315, 63 S. Ct. 307 (1943), applies to a Pennsylvania hospital's denial of physician staff privileges pursuant to its peer review procedures. The district court held that the hospital's conduct was immune. Because it has not been established that Pennsylvania actively supervises such peer review decisions, we will reverse.

I.

Dr. Ralph J. Miller, a licensed physician and surgeon, established a practice in Indiana, Pennsylvania, in 1959. Dr. Miller subsequently purchased land near Indiana Hospital, the only general hospital in Indiana County, and constructed facilities designed to house a variety of medical facilities. According to Dr. Miller, the hospital administrators perceived his plans as a threat to the hospital.

In 1977, after a patient under Dr. Miller's care died at the hospital, Dr. Miller was reported to the president of the hospital's medical staff for allegedly rendering inadequate care to the deceased patient and others. Dr. Miller was subsequently notified that the executive committee intended to recommend to the hospital's board of directors that his staff privileges be revoked. Dr. Miller demanded a hearing and was notified of the date of the hearing, the charges, and the witnesses against him. At the hearing, Dr. Miller was represented by counsel and was afforded an opportunity to present and cross-examine witnesses. After a three-day proceeding, the committee decided to revoke Dr. Miller's staff privileges, concluding, among other things, that Dr. Miller had acted improperly in the case of the deceased patient and that he had behaved inappropriately towards various members of the staff. The hearing committee's report and decision was approved and adopted by the executive committee. Dr. Miller appealed this decision to the hospital's board of directors, but the board, after another hearing, affirmed the decision. Dr. Miller's staff privileges were consequently revoked.

Dr. Miller then filed an action against the hospital in the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, seeking restoration of his staff privileges. Dr. Miller's complaint asserted that the procedures employed by the hospital were defective and violated the hospital by-laws and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the court initially granted Dr. Miller's ex parte application for a preliminary injunction, the court later dissolved the preliminary injunction and denied permanent relief. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed. The Superior Court found no breach of the by-laws or other procedural requirements and concluded that Indiana Hospital was not a state actor and was therefore not subject to the Fourteenth Amendment. Miller v. Indiana Hospital, 277 Pa. Super. 370, 419 A.2d 1191 (1980). Dr. Miller's petition for allowance of appeal was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. See Miller v. Indiana Hospital, 562 F. Supp. 1259, 1269 (W.D. Pa. 1983).

In 1977 and 1978 Dr. Miller applied for and was denied staff privileges. In 1979, the hospital refused to consider his application, and in later years the hospital refused even to give him an application.

In 1980, Dr. Miller filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Department of Health ("DOH") contending that the hospital's refusal to furnish him with an application and to process his application violated state and federal regulations and the hospital by-laws. Dr. Miller's petition requested that the DOH order the hospital to supply him with an application and process his application. The DOH treated Miller's petition as a formal complaint submitted under l Pa. Code ยง 35.9, a provision of general application which states:

Any person complaining of anything done or omitted to be done by any person subject to the jurisdiction of any agency, in violation of a statute or regulation administered or issued by the agency may file a complaint with the agency.

Section 35.9 also provides:

the agency [may] . .. take . . . action which in the judgment of the ...


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