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Monday, January 11, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In William I. Babchuk, M.D., P.C. v. Indiana University Health, Inc (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), an 8-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

Dr. William Babchuk, a radiologist, brought this suit against Indiana University Health Tipton Hospital, Inc. (Tipton Hospital for short), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which creates a federal remedy for violations of constitutional rights by what are called “state actors.” See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49–50 (1988). In 2003 Tipton awarded Babchuk medical staff privileges, and either then or later also gave his professional corporation an exclusive contract to provide radiology services at the hospital. The suit charges that the hospital and its administrators deprived him of property without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, when in 2012 it cancelled both his medical privileges and his corporation’s contract. His professional corporation is an additional plaintiff. The defendants include besides Tipton Hospital the hospital’s owner, Indiana University Health, Inc., plus some persons employed by the corporate defendants—but we can ignore those persons.

The district judge granted summary judgment in favor of all the defendants. She reasoned that the plaintiffs had failed to prove they had a federally protected property interest in Dr. Babchuk’s hospital privileges or in the contract between his professional corporation and the hospital. An alternative ground for affirmance urged by the defendants is that the conduct of which Babchuk complains is not state action and is therefore not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. * * *

So this is not a case in which “it can be said that the State is responsible for the specific conduct of which the plaintiff complains.” Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982) (emphasis in original). The fact that some of Tipton Hospital’s revenues are siphoned off to the state university no more makes the hospital a state actor than the fact that tax laws siphon income from private companies and individuals to state and federal treasuries. The university may well exert pressure direct and indirect on Tipton Hospital, just as federal and state governments in manifold ways exert pressure on private institutions. Government is omnipresent; that doesn’t make all employees of private entities state actors.

The judgment in favor of the defendants is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 11, 2016 06:09 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions