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Leff v. Gulfstream Anesthesia Consultants, PA

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

November 6, 2014

LEFF, Plaintiff
v.
GULFSTREAM ANESTHESIA CONSULTANTS, P.A., Defendant

For Dr. David Leff, Plaintiff: Michael M. Apfelbaum, LEAD ATTORNEY, Apfelbaum Apfelbaum & Apfelbaum, Sunbury, PA.

For Gulfstream Anesthesia Consultants, P.A., Defendant: Gerald E. Burns, LEAD ATTORNEY, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Philadelphia, PA.

MEMORANDUM

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, United States Magistrate Judge.

Procedural History And Background

By way of relevant procedural background, the instant action was removed to federal court on November 19, 2013, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1441(a) and (b), and 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (Doc. 1), and referred to this Court on February 4, 2014 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P.73. (Doc. 10). This case arises from a simple contractual dispute between Plaintiff Dr. David Leff and Defendant Gulfstream Anesthesia Consultants, P.A.

Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law were respectively filed by the parties on October 2, 2014. After reviewing the parties' submissions, the Court distilled three main issues with respect to the Independent Contractor's Agreement requiring resolution, namely: (1) whether the proper term of the Agreement was forty (40) weeks or one year; (2) whether the agreement was properly terminated with cause or without cause; and (3) whether the " proration clause" has an effect on a calculation of damages, if any.

A non-jury trial was held on October 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. Plaintiff was represented by counsel, Michael M. Apfelbaum; Defendant was represented by counsel, Gerald E. Burns. At trial, the Court heard testimony from Dr. Leff and, on behalf of the Defendant, Dr. Lawrence Reid, President for Gulfstream Anesthesia Consultants, P.A.

The Court, having heard the testimony and reviewed all documentary evidence now enters the following Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision pursuant to Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed.R.Civ.P.52.

Findings Of Fact

The following findings of fact are based upon the stipulation of the parties, as well as the testimony and evidence which the Court found credible as presented at trial.

1. Defendant Gulfstream Anesthesia Consultants, P.A. (" Gulfstream"), is a professional association whose sole member is Dr. Lawrence Reid, a resident of the State of Florida. Plaintiff, Dr. David Leff (" Dr. Leff"), is a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
2. Gulfstream hires board certified anesthesiologists as independent contractors to provide anesthesiology services to five hospitals in the Northumberland, Bradford, Clinton, and Columbia counties. (Trial Tr. 55).
3. Dr. Leff, a board certified anesthesiologist, and Gulfstream entered into an Independent Contractor Agreement dated January 16, 2012, whereby Dr. Leff would provide anesthesia coverage for Gulfstream on a permanent, part-time basis for at least forty (40) weeks per year. The Agreement would be effective for one year, beginning January 16, 2012 through January 15, 2013 unless otherwise terminated in accordance with the terms of the Agreement.
4. Gulfstream generated its work schedule mid-month for the next month. (Trial Tr. 60). While the Agreement stipulated that Gulfstream desired to contract with Dr. Leff for at least 40 weeks per year, the Agreement did not obligate Gulfstream to schedule Dr. Leff for any consecutive period of time. The understanding between the parties was that Dr. Leff would provide part-time coverage for forty (40) weeks, and Gulfstream would contract with other anesthesiologists to provide coverage for the ...

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