MCL 331.531 Example Case

In Long v. Chelsea Community Hosp, 219 Mich App 578, 580-581; 557 NW2d 157 (1996), the plaintiff physician brought suit against the defendant private hospital and members of the hospital's board of trustees, alleging breach of contract, promissory estoppel, loss of consortium, and liability under the peer review statute, MCL 331.531; MSA 14.57(21). Regarding the latter claim, the plaintiff argued that the defendants were not immune from liability because they acted with malice. The Long Court, in considering the question whether a private cause of action for malice exists under the peer review statute and in rejecting the existence of such a cause of action, noted that the judicial nonreview doctrine is not unlimited: . . . . As evidenced by the statutory language, 531 provides immunity to entities unless they act with malice. the statute's implicit purpose is to protect the participants in the peer review process. . . . . . . . Courts may not review a private hospital's staffing decisions. Sarin v. Samaritan Health Center, 176 Mich App 790, 795; 440 NW2d 80 (1989); Regualos v. Community Hosp, 140 Mich App 455; 364 NW2d 723 (1985), at 461; Hoffman v. Garden City Hosp, 115 Mich App 773; 321 NW2d 810 (1982); Muzquiz v. W a Foote Memorial Hosp, Inc, 70 F3d 422, 430 (CA 6, 1995). A private hospital is empowered to appoint and remove its members at will without judicial intervention. Sarin, supra at 792-793; Hoffman, supra at 778. A private hospital has the right to exclude any doctor from practicing within it. Hoffman, supra at 778-779. The above law is limited to disputes that are contractual in nature. We decline to articulate a broad principle that a private hospital's staffing decisions may never be judicially reviewed. Indeed, in doing so, we reiterate the proposition from Sarin that, under some circumstances, a court may consider a hospital's decisions without violating the nonreviewability principle. Sarin, supra at 795. Private hospitals do not have carte blanche to violate the public policy of our state as contained in its laws. Had plaintiff in this case asserted that defendants violated state or federal law, we may have chosen to review his claim. In this case, however, plaintiff did not assert a violation of civil rights or a violation of a state statute . . . . Further, previous decisions support this reasoning. . . . Although the Hoffman Court refused to review the hospital's staffing decisions, the Court nonetheless examined the plaintiffs' claims of restraint of trade under MCL 445.762; MSA 28.62. Hoffman, supra at 779. Likewise, in Muzquiz, the Court refused to review the plaintiff's breach of contract claim under the nonreviewability standard in Sarin, but separately reviewed his claims of discrimination contrary to state and federal law. Muzquiz, supra at 429-430. Long, supra at 584, 586-588.