California Court of Appeal Upholds Victory for Dignity Health’s St. Mary Medical Center

Manatt secured a major victory for Dignity Health’s St. Mary Medical Center on November 17 when the California Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of the hospital’s medical staff’s writ petition.

The appellate victory comes after Manatt’s successful defense of St. Mary Medical Center in 2021 following a one-day trial in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, when the judge denied the medical staff’s petition for writ of mandate in an extensive written ruling.

The medical staff of St. Mary Medical Center, a Dignity Health hospital located in Long Beach, California, sought a writ of mandate and injunctive relief, claiming that the hospital had unlawfully usurped the medical staff’s right to self-governance by not approving proposed changes in the bylaws and improperly failed to renew exclusive services contracts for various hospital services, including emergency, radiology and anesthesiology services, electing instead to contract with new physician groups over the medical staff’s objection.

The trial court ruled in the hospital’s favor, agreeing that Dignity Health, the legal entity ultimately responsible for what happens at the hospital, had the power to disapprove the medical staff’s proposed bylaw amendments. The court agreed that a traditional writ of mandate cannot be issued to challenge such discretionary actions, where no ministerial or clear legal duties were violated.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the medical staff failed to exhaust its administrative remedies for certain aspects of the dispute, which invalidated nearly all of the medical staff’s arguments on appeal.

Manatt’s litigation team included partners Barry LandsbergCraig Rutenberg and Joanna McCallum and counsel Doreen Shenfeld.

Read the appellate court’s opinion here.

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