The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.
Defendants Nyack Hospital ("Nyack"), Daniel Berson, M.D.
("Berson"), James Dawson ("Dawson"), Kenneth Steinglass, M.D.
("Steinglass"), and Rockland Thoracic Associates, P.C.
("Rockland") have moved pursuant to Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P. for
summary judgment dismissing the complaint of plaintiffs
Fletcher J. Johnson, M.D. ("Johnson"), and Benjay Realty
Corporation ("Benjay"), as well as for attorneys' fees and
costs. For the reasons set forth below, the summary judgment
motions are granted. The motions for attorneys' fees are
denied, but the motions for costs are granted.
Johnson, a New York resident, is a physician licensed to
practice in the states of New York and New Jersey. In 1972,
Johnson was granted privileges to perform vascular and thoracic
surgery at Nyack, a voluntary not-for profit hospital located
in Nyack, Rockland County, New York.
Benjay is a New York corporation with its principal place of
business in Upper Nyack, New York. At all relevant times,
Benjay was owned and controlled by Johnson.
Rockland is a New York professional corporation owned by
Steinglass and Alfred Moscarella, M.D.
On February 8, 1990, Johnson and Ben-jay filed their
complaint alleging violations of the federal antitrust laws and
tortious interference with economic advantage. The complaint
alleged that Steinglass and Dawson conspired to revoke
Johnson's privileges to perform thoracic and vascular surgery
at Nyack in order to eliminate Johnson as a competitor in the
market for thoracic and vascular surgery services.
The complaint alleged Johnson competed in the relevant market
with other doctors at Nyack and had privileges to perform this
type of surgery at other hospitals in Rockland County as well
as plans to establish a "medical mall" in the area. According
to the complaint, Johnson in 1984 announced plans for the
"medical mall" — a treatment center that was to provide in a
single location services from various specialists.
On August 30, 1990, Steinglass and Rockland filed their
summary judgment motions. On October 18, 1990, Nyack, Berson
and Dawson filed their summary judgment motions. A series of
adjournments agreed to by the parties postponed the return date
of the motion until May 30, 1991, as of which date the motion
was considered fully submitted.
On January 1, 1985, Steinglass began his first three year
term of service as chief of the Section of Thoracic and
Vascular Surgery at Nyack (the "Section").
Under Nyack's by-laws (the "By-Laws"), a section chief is
"accountable for all professional . . . activities within his
department." By-Laws Art. V, § 3(1). Shortly after being named
section chief, Steinglass met with Berson and Dawson to discuss
quality of care in the Section and agreed to conduct a review
of all cases performed by Section members. The review consisted
of an examination of all 222 cases performed by the nine
Section members over the period from December, 1984 through
June 1985. The review analyzed each surgeon's technique,
judgment and documentation skills.
Steinglass concluded from the review that Johnson's
performance fell below minimally acceptable standards.
Steinglass recommended to Berson the revocation of Johnson's
medical staff privileges to perform thoracic and vascular
Before taking any further action, Nyack retained two
independent experts in thoracic and vascular surgery — Dr.
E.F. Conklin ("Conklin") and Dr. Graham W. Knox ("Knox") — to
review Johnson's thoracic and vascular cases. The experts, in
separate and independent reports, also found that Johnson
provided substandard care.
Nyack's Revocation Decision
On January 28, 1987, Berson informed Nyack's Credentials
Committee that the Department of Surgery recommended that
Johnson's thoracic and vascular surgery privileges not be
On February 10, 1987, Nyack's Credentials Committee held a
special meeting to consider Berson's recommendation. At this
meeting, Steinglass presented the conclusion reached in his
report. The Steinglass, Knox, and Conklin reports were made
available for the Credentials Committee members' review. The
Credentials Committee recommended the revocation of Johnson's
thoracic and vascular surgery privileges, based on the Surgery
Department's recommendations, the reports of Steinglass and the
two experts, and its own review.