The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas C. Platt, United States District Judge.
Before this Court is a motion by defendants Nassau Health Care
Corporation, Anthony Angelo, and Jacob Sokol (hereinafter collectively
"Defendants") for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(b) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, dismissing the Complaint of Syed T. Ahmad in
its entirety on the grounds there are no genuine issues of material fact
For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in full, and
Defendants are awarded their costs.
The facts are derived from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Statements
and are not in dispute except as noted.
Plaintiff Syed Ahmad, M.D. ("Dr. Ahmad" or "Plaintiff") was terminated
from his employment with defendant Nassau Health Care Corporation
("NHCC") on February 16, 2000. In this action, Dr. Ahmad alleges that his
termination from NHCC was discriminatory based on his race, national
origin (Pakistani), and religion (Muslim) in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII")
and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. L. § 296
("NYSHRL"). Defendants deny any discriminatory action against Plaintiff
and assert that Dr. Ahmad's termination occurred only after a
determination by defendants Anthony Angelo ("Dr. Angelo") and Jacob Sokol
("Dr. Sokol") that Plaintiff intentionally withheld material information
from his re-credentialing application for medical staff privileges in
order to conceal accusations of negative professional conduct.
NHCC is a public benefit corporation with its principal offices located
in Nassau County, New York. Effective September 29, 1999, various
healthcare facilities and operations previously owned and operated by
Nassau County were transferred to NHCC. Among those facilities
transferred was the Nassau University Medical Center ("the Medical
Center"), formerly the Nassau County Medical Center. From September 29,
1999 until his termination in February 2000, NHCC was Plaintiffs
Plaintiff Dr. Ahmad is originally from Pakistan, is non-white, and is
of the Muslim faith. He is a duly licensed physician in the State of New
York and has been so licensed since 1993. In or about October 1994, Dr.
Ahmad commenced employment as a full-time salaried physician in the
Medical Center's Center of Primary Care ("COPC"). COPC is an outpatient
primary care clinic that is located within the Medical Center. Plaintiff
remained employed as a full-time Attending Internist in COPC during his
entire employment at
NHCC. His duties included attending to patients on
the hospital floor, in nursing homes, and in satellite clinics.
Defendant Dr. Jacob Sokol was born in Germany and is of the Jewish
faith. Dr. Sokol was at all relevant times the Chair of Ambulatory
Services, of which COPC is a part. Plaintiffs supervisor, Dr. Bella
Silecchia ("Dr. Silecchia"), reported directly to Dr. Sokol. There is
disagreement between the parties as to whether or not Dr. Sokol was the
Medical Center official who hired Plaintiff. Defendants claim Dr. Sokol
interviewed Dr. Ahmed and recommended that he be hired. Plaintiff
contends he was interviewed by Dr. Silecchia and Dr. Sokol, but it was
Dr. Faroque Kahn ("Dr. Kahn") — the Chair of the Department at the
time Plaintiff was hired — who made the final decision to hire
Defendant Dr. Anthony Angelo was born in the United States and
considers himself to be a Roman Catholic Caucasian. Dr. Angelo was at all
relevant times the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at the
Medical Center. Dr. Sokol reported directly to Dr. Angelo.
During his tenure at COPC, Plaintiff was a salaried employee of the
Medical Center and therefore a credentialed member of the medical
staff.*fn1 Pursuant to Section 2805-k of the New York Public
Health Law, before granting or renewing medical staff privileges, a
hospital is required to request, and the physician is required to provide,
certain information. That information includes: the name of any other
hospital or facility at which the physician has or had privileges or with
which the physician was otherwise associated; the reason for any
discontinuation of such association, if applicable; any misconduct
proceedings or malpractice actions pending against the physician; and
a verification by the physician that the information provided is true and
accurate. N.Y. Pub. Heath L. § 2805-k(l)(a)-(c). The hospital must
then request from every hospital identified by the physician, information
regarding professional misconduct proceedings or malpractice actions,
judgments, or settlements or any other incidents of possible professional
misconduct. Id. At the Medical Center, physicians applying for
medical staff privileges must fill out a Medical Staff Re-Appointment
Application. Physicians must be re-credentialed every two years.
On or about October 5, 1999, in accordance with the Medical Center's
procedures, Dr. Ahmad submitted to the Medical Staff Office an application
for renewal of his medical staff privileges ("1999 Application").
Defendants claims that Plaintiff intentionally misrepresented information
on his 1999 Application and these misrepresentations led to Plaintiff's
dismissal in February 2000.
The first page of the application states: "list all
other hospitals at which you are a member of the
Medical Staff or where you were a member within the
past ten (10) years." Plaintiff listed only Mercy
Medical Center, Island Medical Center, and Franklin
Hospital m response to this question.
On the second page of the application, Question No. 7
asks: "Has your association, employment practice or
privileges in any hospital or institution ever been
relinquished, suspended, diminished, revoked, or
modified in any other manner?" Plaintiff originally
answered "No" to this question but scratched out his
"No" answer and responded "Yes."
The top of the second page of the application states:
"If the answers to any of the following questions is
`Yes', please provide us with details on separate
sheet(s) of paper." Despite answering "Yes" to
Question No. 7, Plaintiff did not provide further
explanation, as required by the application.
Pursuant to § 2805-k(2), the Medical Staff Office sent letters to
the three hospitals Dr. Ahmad had listed on page one of the 1999
Application — Mercy, Island, and Franklin — seeking
confirmation of the status of Dr. Ahmed's privileges at those hospitals.
All three hospitals provided the Medical Center with information
regarding Plaintiff's privileges.
In December 1999, the Medical Staff Office noted that Dr. Ahmad had
answered "Yes" to Question 7 but failed to provide the requisite
explanation for his answer. On December 7, 1999, Dr. Gerald Mondschein,
the Chairman of the Medical Staff Credentials Committee, sent a letter to
Dr. Ahmad asking him to explain his response to Question 7. On December
16, 1999, Dr. Ahmad sent a letter to Dr: Mondschein which stated that, as
a result of a negative outcome relating to his treatment of a patient at
Southside Hospital ("Southside") in October 1998, Plaintiff had been
asked to leave the hospital. Dr. Ahmad also stated in his December 16
letter that the Southside incident was reported to and investigated by
the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct ("OPMC") and
that "no action" had been taken against Plaintiff.*fn2 Dr. Ahmad failed
to list Southside on the first page of the 1999 Application when asked at
which hospitals he had been a member of the medical staff during the past
ten (10) years. Plaintiff claims that at the time he believed he was only
required to list those hospitals at which he was then active.
Southside had in fact terminated Dr. Ahmad's employment and medical
staff privileges effective December 8, 1998, following an October 1998
incident with a patient of Dr. Ahmad's. Shortly thereafter, Southside
reported this occurrence to OPMC. In connection with OPMC's investigation
of the incident at Southside, Plaintiff received a document from OPMC
stating, in boldface: "Licensees should never assume an OPMC
investigation is closed because they haven't had recent contact with
OPMC." (Defs.' Ex. F.)