Physician with Staff Privileges had Claim Against Hospital for Tortious Interference, Breach of Contract and Good Faith Claims Where Hospital Interfered with Patient Referrals

Landmark Cases

GREENBERG, M.D., v. MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER OF GREATER MIAMI, INC., 629 So. 2d 252 (Fla. App. 3rd 1993)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant doctors sought review from the Circuit Court for Dade County (Florida), which dismissed their complaint against appellee hospital and department chairman alleging tortious interference with advantageous business relationships, civil conspiracy for tortious interference with advantageous business relationships, restraint of trade, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence.

OVERVIEW: Appellant doctors alleged that they began experiencing difficulty in obtaining certain hospital privileges after appellee chairman became head of the cardiovascular department at appellee hospital. Appellants claimed appellees influenced patients to avoid appellees. The court reversed the dismissal of appellants’ claim for tortious interference with advantageous business relationships because appellants’ allegations were sufficient to state a claim for intentional interference. The court reversed the dismissal of appellants’ civil conspiracy claim because appellants established the underlying tort of interference and alleged that appellees had an independent personal stake in achieving the object of the conspiracy, although appellants failed to establish abuse of economic power. Appellants’ restraint of trade complaint was properly dismissed because they failed to allege a per se violation or anticompetitive effects of appellees’ action on the cardiovascular surgery market. Appellants’ claims against appellee hospital for breach of contract and implied covenant of good faith were improperly dismissed because administrative remedies were inadequate and did not have to be exhausted.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the dismissal of appellants’ negligence claims because the economic loss rule barred the claims. The court affirmed the dismissal of appellants’ restraint of trade complaint because there was no allegation of a per se violation or effect on the market. The court reversed the dismissal of appellants’ tortious interference with business relationship claims, civil conspiracy and breach of contract and good faith claims.