STEPHEN HARRIS v. BRADLEY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL AND
HEALTH CENTER, INC., SC 18068
Judicial District of New Britain
Hospitals; Suspension of Privileges; Favorable Termination Doctrine; Whether Plaintiff's Action Challenging the Suspension of his Hospital Privileges was Barred under the Favorable Termination Doctrine Because he Failed to Prove that Hospital Proceedings Regarding the Suspension Terminated in his Favor. The plaintiff surgeon was granted medical staff privileges at the defendant hospital in the 1990s. In 2001, the defendant's medical executive committee summarily suspended the plaintiff's surgical privileges. After a review panel upheld the summary suspension, the plaintiff initiated this action, asserting claims of, among other things, breach of contract, tortious interference with business expectancies and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). Before the matter was submitted to the jury, the defendant moved for a directed verdict as to the entire complaint, which the trial court granted as to the CUTPA claim only. In doing so, the court concluded that CUTPA was not applicable because the summary suspension was not a commercial decision, but was instead an employment-type determination as well as a medical decision based on concerns for patient safety. The jury subsequently returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff as to his remaining claims and awarded him damages. Thereafter, the defendant filed motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for remittitur, and the plaintiff filed a motion for punitive damages. The trial court granted the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict based upon the "favorable termination" doctrine. It first noted that the doctrine requires a plaintiff in a malicious prosecution or vexatious litigation suit to establish that the defendant instituted an action that terminated in the plaintiff's favor. Applying the doctrine to the present matter, the court ruled that because the plaintiff failed to prove that the hospital proceedings terminated favorably to him, the plaintiff was not entitled to recover on any of his claims. In light of its decision, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for punitive damages, and as a further basis for such denial, it concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the defendant intentionally or recklessly injured the plaintiff's rights. While acknowledging that it was technically unnecessary to address the motion for remittitur in view of its decision on the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the court decided that the defendant correctly asserted that the jury's award of noneconomic damages was excessive. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court's rulings were proper.