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Friday, December 18, 2009

Ind. Decisions - Two justices write dissent today from denial of transfer

Mercho Roushdi Shoemaker Dilley Thoraco Vascular Corp. v. James W. Blatchford, III, M.D., and Eve G. Cieutat, M.D. - Chief Justice Shepard, in a 7-page dissent joined by Justice Dickson, writes:

An Indiana group of open-heart surgeons with facilities in Indianapolis and Terre Haute recruited a husband-wife team from Texas to provide more staff capacity at its Terre Haute operation. The parties negotiated rather elaborate, if ordinary, agreements that covered various aspects of their business relationship, from stock purchase arrangements to dissolution procedures to noncompetition provisions.

When the Texas doctors decided several years later to set up a competing practice of their own in Terre Haute, they and their former associates sued each other in claim and counterclaim. In the first round of this litigation, the Court of Appeals affirmed denial of injunctive relief on grounds that an adequate remedy existed at law.

In this round, the Court of Appeals has held that enforcing the business agreements of physicians is contrary to public policy as harmful to patients. The facts here illuminate only the opposite.* * *

This case illustrates why non-enforcement of such agreements has the potential to detract from the public interest. Denying damages to a practice seeking to enforce its business arrangements detracts from the very public interests that this Court’s decisions aim to protect—patient access to medical care.

I think patients (and doctors) would be well served by vacating the Court of Appeals’ declaration that business arrangements between physicians are not enforceable.

Here is the ILB summary (3rd case) of the 22-page, 3-0, Feb. 5th Court of Appeals decision by Judge Riley.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 18, 2009 04:19 PM
Posted to Indiana Transfer Lists