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Palepu v. Bondi

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 14, 2017

SHOWRI PALEPU, M.D. Appellant
v.
RICHARD BONDI, M.D.

         Appeal from the Order March 2, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Civil Division at No(s): No. GD-14-001811.

          BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., RANSOM, J. and, MUSMANNO, J.

          OPINION

          RANSOM, J.

         Showri Palepu, M.D. (Appellant) appeals from the order entered on March 2, 2016, which granted Appellee's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

         In 2012, Barbara Moore, R.N. was a staff nurse at UPMC McKeesport as she had been for approximately thirty-five years. Moore Dep., 6/29/15, 10:7-17. Toward the end of 2012, an incident occurred in the operating room between Ms. Moore and Appellant, surgeon. Id. at 11:2-14. According to Ms. Moore, Appellant made a disparaging remark about her age. Id. Following the operation, Ms. Moore informed another nurse that Appellant upset her; Ms. Moore further discussed the incident with her supervisor, Gina Ruggieri. Id. at 30:17-21. Richard Bondi, M.D. (Appellee), through his role as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at UPMC McKeesport, learned of the incident between Appellant and Ms. Moore. Bondi Dep., 3/20/15, 27:1-12. Appellee spoke to Ms. Ruggieri who confirmed that Ms. Moore had reported the incident. Id. at 30:11-16. In February of 2013, Appellee attended a peer review committee meeting at which he relayed to the committee the incident as reported to him. Id. at 37:12-17, 45:18-22.

         In April 2014, Appellant filed a complaint alleging that the statement made by Appellee to the peer review committee placed Appellant in a false light and constituted defamation and injurious falsehood. Following preliminary objections, Appellant filed an amended complaint. The court permitted Appellant to file a second amended complaint to which Appellee filed another set of preliminary objections. The trial court granted the preliminary objections in part, permitting Appellant to proceed on two claims, defamation and injurious falsehood.

         Following discovery, in August 2015, Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment. In response to Appellee's motion for summary judgment, Appellant conceded that:

(1) Nurse Moore believed Appellant made a disparaging remark about her age; and
(2) Ms. Ruggieri confirmed the reported incident to Appellee.

         Resp., 12/9/15, ¶¶ 37, 43, 73.

         The trial court issued a Memorandum granting Appellee's motion for summary judgment. In March 2016, Appellant filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the court. Appellant timely filed a notice of appeal and raised the following issue:[1]

Whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment where the plaintiff submitted evidence of facts which in a jury trial would require issues to be submitted to a jury.

         Appellant's Brief at 4.[2]

         Appellant contends the trial court erred in granting Appellee summary judgment. In reviewing a grant of summary judgment, an appellate court may disturb the order of the trial court only where there has been an error of law or a clear abuse of discretion. Albright v. Abington MemorialHosp., 696 A.2d ...


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