MEDICAL STAFF: Tulare Regional Medical Center Medical Staff v. Tulare Regional Medical Center, et al. (California Superior Court, County of Tulare, VCU264227)
CMA filed an amicus brief in support of the medical staff at Tulare Regional Medical Center in its lawsuit against the hospital alleging violations of state laws when the hospital terminated the entire medical staff and its duly elected officers. The hospital has recognized a replacement medical staff formed by a group of seven physicians led by the vice chairman of the hospital board. This group presented itself as a newly formed medical staff after it selected new bylaws and named officers to the medical executive committee. 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.
CMA's amicus brief explains that the replacement medical staff has no legal basis and that the hospital has committed serious violations of the self-governing rights of the original medical staff and its physician members. The brief asserts 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. The Tulare County Superior Court declined to grant a temporary restraining order as requested by the medical staff, claiming there was not enough evidence at the early stages of the case to impose such extraordinary relief. 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. Pending the bankruptcy proceeding, the hospital and the medical staff continued to negotiate to try to resolve their case. 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. Court approval of that stipulated judgment is pending.