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Robinson v. Carealliance Health Services

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

August 5, 2014

Robert J. Robinson, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
Carealliance Health Services d/b/a Roper St. Francis Healthcare; Bon Secours St. Francis Xavier Hospital, Inc.; Franklin C. Fetter Family Health Center, Inc.; Steven Shapiro, M.D.; Allen Carroll; and Laura Celia, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

WALLACE W. DIXON, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's ADA claim and/or all of the Plaintiff's state law claims. In the alternative, the Defendants move for a stay of the Plaintiff's claims pending completion of a peer review process by St. Francis Hospital. [Doc. 46.] Although the Plaintiff's submissions to this point and related to the present motion to dismiss have all been counseled, the Plaintiff is currently proceeding pro se in this matter.

Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(A), and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in employment discrimination cases are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for consideration.

BACKGROUND

The Plaintiff is an OB/GYN who has been in practice in Charleston, South Carolina since 1979. (Second Amend. Compl.¶ 12.) During that time, he has held full Medical Staff Privileges at Roper Hospital and St. Francis Hospital, and he has delivered thousands of babies and performed thousands of gynecologic procedures at these two hospitals. Id. ¶ 15. The Plaintiff is not an employee of the Defendants; rather, like many members of the medical staff, he is a private practitioner who maintains medical staff privileges to enable him to perform OB/GYN services at the Hospital. (Second Amend. Compl. ¶ 12, 15-16). The Defendants also had a separate independent contractor relationship with the Plaintiff to provide coverage for patients admitted to the Hospital while in labor who either do not have their own OB/GYN or otherwise need the services of an OB/GYN. Id. ¶ 28.

For several years, the Plaintiff has been diagnosed with diabetes, a disability as defined by the ADA. See 29 C.F.R. §1630.2 (h)(1); ( see also Second Amend. Complaint ¶ 17).

In the spring of 2011, allegedly as a result of his diabetes, the Plaintiff suffered a Charcot fracture to his left foot requiring external fixation surgery and the insertion of pins in his foot and leg. Id. ¶ 17. After surgery, he worked at Roper Hospital using a rolling stool when necessary in the delivery room. Between June and December 2012, with the benefit of this accommodation, the Plaintiff alleges that he performed dozens of Caesarians during this time with no complaints and no adverse complications to any patient or baby. Id. ¶ 18.

In February 2013, the Plaintiff was informed that he would no longer be allowed to use a stool during deliveries or other procedures, despite the Defendants' prior approval of this medically necessary accommodation. Upon information and belief, beginning in late 2012 and early 2013, a number of individuals at Roper and St. Francis hospitals conspired to force Dr. Robinson out of practice so that St. Francis or Roper Hospital employed physicians (either direct employees of St. Francis or members of its wholly owned physicians practice, Roper Physician Partners) would get the Plaintiff's payments for admissions, deliveries, and other procedures that would have otherwise been performed by Dr. Robinson. Id. ¶ 23. These named individual Defendants sought to "jerk" his Medical Staff Privileges based on pretextural and manufactured concerns regarding his disability and previously agreed upon accommodations. Id.

On February 7, 2013, the Plaintiff performed a very complicated delivery. (Second Amend. Compl. ¶ 32; see also Letter from Dr. Alexander Smythe, II, dated February 3, 2014 ("Smythe Letter, " Def. Mot. Dismiss at 1).) On February 14, 2013, a report was submitted to department chair, Dr. Victor Weinstein ("Weinstein"), raising significant clinical concerns about the Plaintiff's ability to safely perform the procedure. (Second Amend. Comp. ¶ 39; Def. Mot. Dismiss Ex. B). According to the report, the Plaintiff's inability to stand precluded him from adequately visualizing the surgical field, delivering the baby, controlling the mother's breathing, or closing the surgical wound. Id.

By letter dated March 25, 2013, the Medical Executive Committee (MEC), acting through the Chief of the Medical Staff, Dr. Jeffery Rieder ("Rieder"), apprised the Plaintiff that an Ad Hoc Committee had identified "several medical issues that may have an effect on [his] ability to practice" and that additional information was needed to "clarify these issues." (Second Amend. Compl. ¶ 41; Rieder Letter, Def. Mot. Dismiss Ex. D.) In light of these concerns, the MEC requested that the Plaintiff apply for a medical leave of absence while the investigation continued, which he did. (Second Amend. Compl. ¶ 43; Def. Mot. Dismiss Ex D.)

The Plaintiff has indicated that the MEC identified various requirements for his reinstatement, which he alleges to have satisfied. (Second Amen. Compl. ¶¶ 54-55.) The Defendants contend that the Plaintiff has refused to attend a three-day program at the Competency Advancement Program of the University of Florida in Gainesville ("CAPUF") or to propose any alternative program of similar rigor to justify his reinstatement.

By all representations, the investigation and peer review process of the MEC remains open, even to this time.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim should not be granted unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts which would support its claim and would entitle it to relief. In considering a motion to dismiss, the court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to ...


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