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James E. Blaine, Jr., D.P.M v. Ohiohealth Corporation et al

September 27, 2011

JAMES E. BLAINE, JR., D.P.M., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
OHIOHEALTH CORPORATION ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. (C.P.C. No. 10CVH-8-12756)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sadler, J.

Cite as Blaine v. OhioHealth Corp.,

(ACCELERATED CALENDAR)

DECISION

{¶1} Appellant, James E. Blaine, Jr., D.P.M., appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in which the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees, OhioHealth Corporation ("OhioHealth") and Grady Memorial Hospital ("the hospital"). For the following reasons, we affirm.

{¶2} Appellant graduated from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in 2002. In March 2005, he joined the staff of the hospital in Delaware, Ohio and successfully completed a 36-month residency program in podiatric medicine and surgery. The hospital is a member of the OhioHealth system.

{¶3} On December 21, 2005, the hospital granted appellant clinical privileges, which he exercised until June 30, 2007. The hospital reappointed appellant on March 25, 2009 for a two-year term ending on March 24, 2011.

{¶4} The parties stipulated that, in 2005 and again in 2008, appellant acknowledged in writing that he was subject to the hospital's medical staff bylaws. Pursuant to the hospital's bylaws, each practitioner must satisfy several requirements in order to maintain medical staff appointment and privileges. One of those requirements, §3.2-2(b), states that each practitioner must: Have completed an approved residency program for a Physician, Dentist, Oral Surgeon or Podiatrist and Board certification within five (5) years of residency or fellowship completion. Board certification and/or residency program must have been in the specialty in which the Practitioner seeks Privileges. Recognized certification boards are the: American Board of Medical Specialties, American Osteopathic Association, American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, and American Board of Podiatric Surgery or the American Board of Professional Psychology. Exceptions to board certification may be recommended to the Board by the Medical Executive Committee after considering current competence.

{¶5} To satisfy the board-certification requirement in §3.2-2(b), appellant attempted to obtain certification from the American Board of Podiatric Surgery ("ABPS"); however, he failed the written examination in June 2005, June 2007, June 2009, and June 2010. While appellant was waiting to receive the results of the June 2010 examination, he asked the hospital to extend the five-year certification deadline in §3.2- 2(b), which was currently scheduled to expire on June 30, 2010. The hospital agreed and permitted him to obtain the requisite certification by September 1, 2010.

{¶6} On July 7, 2010, appellant mailed a letter to Cathy Holloway, project manager of the hospital's medical staff services department, announcing that he would not seek certification from ABPS but would instead seek certification from the American Board of Lower Extremity Surgery ("ABLES"), a board not included among the list of "recognized certification boards" set forth in §3.2-2(b). Appellant stated his belief that the hospital's bylaws did not require certification through ABPS, and that any such requirement would violate the hospital's nondiscrimination policy as set forth in §3.5 of the bylaws.

{¶7} On July 16, 2010, Thomas P. Hubbell, M.D., the Medical Staff President and Medical Executive Committee ("MEC") Chair, responded, by way of letter, to appellant's July 7, 2010 correspondence, which Dr. Hubbell construed as a "request" for alternate board certification. The letter informed appellant that the Credentials Committee and the MEC reviewed and denied the request, and that appellant was required to submit documentation of ABPS certification by September 1, 2010.

{¶8} On August 1, 2010, appellant obtained certification from ABLES. By letter dated August 1, 2010, ABLES notified appellant that his status would not be elevated to "Board Certified in Podiatric Surgery" until his satisfactory completion of ABLES casestudy requirements.

{¶9} On August 2, 2010, appellant requested a hearing under §15.1-1 of the hospital's bylaws. The hospital denied the request in a letter dated August 12, 2010, and informed appellant of its position that §15.2-3(a) of the bylaws did not require a hearing because the hospital's action was based solely on appellant's "administrative or technical failings."

{¶10} Appellant filed a complaint in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on August 30, 2010, seeking injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, and monetary damages. The trial court, following a hearing, issued a preliminary injunction on September 1, 2010, enjoining the hospital from terminating, revoking, suspending or limiting appellant's staff appointment and privileges.

{ΒΆ11} The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment and stipulations of fact. On November 12, 2010, after a hearing on the motions, the trial court issued its decision and entry granting summary judgment ...


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