MEDICAL STAFF: Tulare Regional Medical Center Medical Staff v. Tulare Regional Medical Center, et al. (California Superior Court, County of Tulare, VCU264227)
CMA provided substantial assistance and support in a landmark lawsuit by the medical staff at Tulare Regional Medical Center to enforce state laws establishing its right to independence and self-governance. The lawsuit was filed in February 2016 after the hospital board announced it unilaterally was terminating the entire medical staff in favor of a new replacement medical staff formed by a group of seven physicians led by the vice chairman of the hospital board.
The replacement medical staff had already selected its own leaders and adopted bylaws that had been written by the hospital’s lawyers. None of the other physicians at the hospital were aware of such actions or voted on the new bylaws and officers. The physicians were told that they would have provisional membership in the replacement medical staff, without any right to hold office or vote on medical staff matters.
In addition to closely consulting on the case and funding the attorneys’ fees for the medical staff, CMA submitted amicus briefs to explain the importance of medical staff self-governance. CMA’s briefs asserted that the hospital has effectively unseated duly elected medical staff officers in favor of unelected individuals that support the hospital to serve in their stead, unilaterally imposed new medical staff bylaws and blocked the proper use of medical staff funds.
Trial in this case was held in April and May 2017, with closing arguments scheduled on October 2, 2017. However, on September 30, 2017, the hospital filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, automatically staying all legal proceedings against it. In early June 2018, a settlement was reached that required the hospital to fully reinstate the medical staff and its leadership and reimburse a significant portion of the medical staff’s attorney’s fees. The settlement also required court approval of a stipulated judgment to end the medical staff lawsuit, explicitly recognizing that the hospital violated the medical staff’s right to self-governance. The trial court issued the stipulated judgment on July 18, 2018, officially ending the lawsuit in favor of the medical staff.