Independent Contractor Physician Agreement Termination

In Abrahamson v. NME Hospitals, Inc. (1987) 195 Cal. App. 3d 1325, 241 Cal. Rptr. 396, the plaintiff physician was given a position as head of the defendant's laboratory and pathology department pursuant to an agreement which provided that he was an independent contractor and the agreement could be terminated without cause by either party upon written notice. (Id. at p. 1327.) When the defendant terminated the plaintiff, the plaintiff sued claiming that his termination was contrary to public policy in that he could only be terminated without cause for a lawful reason. (Id. at pp. 1328-1329.) The court held that because the plaintiff was an independent contractor, cases requiring good cause to terminate an employee were inapposite. (Id. at pp. 1329-1330.) Additionally, because the agreement specified that he could be terminated without cause, there was no breach of the agreement when he was terminated without cause. (Id. at p. 1330.) Thus, in Abrahamson, the parties did not raise the fair procedure issue. Only contract principles were at issue.