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New Cases of Interest - December 5, 2012
Young v. Tri-City Healthcare District (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 35. This case revolves around a SLAPP motion originally granted by the trial court but subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeal.
A hospital district terminated medical staff privileges of the plaintiff at its hospital. Plaintiff sought at writ of administrative mandate challenging that decision with the procedural aspects of the case primarily focused on a cause of action brought by the plaintiff in which he sought relief from his summary suspension. The hospital district contended that that cause of action was subject to the SLAPP statute and that the alleged misconduct of the district arose solely from protected free speech and official activity, the official activity being the conduct of hospital peer review proceedings.
The trial court had initially in granting the SLAPP motion dismissed the entire action, but then granted plaintiff's motion for reconsideration in that the SLAPP motion was addressed only to the single cause of action regarding plaintiff's summary suspension of privileges. The hospital district attacked the trial court's action in that regard, and the court of appeal upheld the trial court's right to proceed with the reconsideration and vacating its dismissal of the entire action, noting that the trial court had the power to correct what appeared to be a clerical error.
The court also found that the summary suspension cause of action did not in fact arise from defendant's acts in furtherance of the hospital's rights of petition or free speech in connection with peer review, but rather the substance of that cause of action arose from the statutory provision giving a right to judicial review of governmental decisions and the making of such a decision did not in itself amount to an exercise of free speech. Thus, the SLAPP statutory protections did not apply as a matter of law.