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Dhillon v. John Muir Health (2017)

May 25, 2017

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Horvitz & Levy LLP represents a hospital on appeal in an administrative mandate proceeding brought by a physician to challenge disciplinary actions that the hospital’s medical staff took against him.  The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on the ground there was no appealable order, but the California Supreme Court reversed.

The medical staff at John Muir Health directed Dr. Jatinder Dhillon to attend an anger management course and, when he refused to attend, suspended his staff privileges for 14 days.  Dr. Dhillon demanded that the hospital initiate a Judicial Review Committee (JRC) proceeding to evaluate the medical staff’s actions.  When the hospital declined, explaining that a protracted formal JRC process was inappropriate and not required for the minor discipline imposed, Dr. Dhillon filed in superior court an administrative mandate petition challenging both the medical staff’s disciplinary actions and the hospital’s denial of a JRC proceeding.  The superior court granted the petition in part, ordering the hospital to conduct a JRC proceeding, but otherwise denied relief.

John Muir Health retained Horvitz & Levy to appeal the superior court’s writ petition ruling.  The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, holding that “[t]he superior court’s order remanding the matter to John Muir Health is not a final, appealable order.”  Horvitz & Levy then filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court.  That court granted review and, after full briefing and oral argument, agreed with our position that the appeal should be heard on its merits.  Finding that “[t]he Court of Appeal’s dismissal order deepened a long-standing conflict” in the lower courts, the Supreme Court concluded the superior court’s order was appealable because, although “[t]he issuance of the writ did not definitively resolve the dispute between the parties, . . . it did mark the end of the writ proceeding in the trial court.”