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New Cases of Interest - January 2, 2014
Sadeghi vs. Sharp Memorial Medical Center, Chula Vista (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 598. This is a case involving a petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus to compel a medical center to void its earlier decision upholding the suspension of medical staff privileges. A medical peer review hearing had ultimately determined, after a number of stops and starts, that the physician's medical staff privileges should be suspended. The Judicial Review Committee subsequently determined that the action of the peer review committee was reasonable and warranted within the meaning of Business and Professional Code Section 809.3(b)(3). The doctor contended that his subsequent mitigating conduct should have modified the findings, but the court determined that this conduct was not relevant for the purposes of evaluating the Judicial Review Committee's action. That committee's action was also not rendered ineffective by the absence of a member practicing in one of the suspended physician's specialty areas, or by the fact that it contained only two members of the hospital's medical staff. The court also found that it was proper to order the physician whose privileges were suspended not to communicate with potential witnesses and that order did not apply to counsel for the physician.
Kurz vs. Syrus Systems, LLC (2013) 221 Cal.App 4th 748. This is another SLAPP case. In this matter a former employer filed a cross-complaint for malicious prosecution after an alleged employee had filed a wrongful termination action against the employer. The employer contended that the employee had maliciously prosecuted a meritless claim for unemployment insurance benefits that terminated in the employer's favor when the claim was denied and the denial was upheld on appeal. The employee brought a SLAPP motion which the trial court denied, but the court of appeal reversed and ordered that the employee's SLAPP motion be granted. The court held that a malicious prosecution action arises from the litigation of a claim for unemployment insurance benefits and is not exempt from the SLAPP statute. The court also found that Unemployment Insurance Code Section 1960 requires that no finding of fact or decision of the Board be allowed as evidence in any subsequent action. The court interpreted the statutory language to mean that the Legislature did not intend to limit the scope of the statute to prohibit the use of the findings of fact or decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board for collateral estoppel effect. The court therefore found that the malicious prosecution cause of action arose from protected activity, and that the employer could not show a probability of prevailing, requiring that the employee's motion be granted.