Court Contra Costa County No. MSN-13-1353 Ct. App. 1/3
A143195 Laurel S. Brady Judge.
Horvitz & Levy, David S. Ettinger, H. Thomas Watson;
DiCaro, Coppo & Popcke, Carlo Coppo, Michael R. Popcke,
Shelley A. Carder; Hooper, Lundy & Bookman and Ross E.
Campbell for Defendants and Appellants.
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Barry S. Landsberg, Doreen W.
Shenfeld and Joanna S. McCallum for Dignity Health as Amicus
Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch and Richard D.
Barton for Medical Staff of Sharp Healthcare as Amicus Curiae
on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.
Jay-Allen Eisen Law Corporation, Jay-Allen Eisen, Jan T.
Chilton, Dennis A. Fischer, Lisa R. Jaskol, Robin B. Johansen
and Robin Meadow for California Academy of Appellate Lawyers
as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.
Minnard Law Firm, Carla V. Minnard; The Arkin Law Firm and
Sharon J. Arkin for Plaintiff and Respondent.
general rule, a litigant may appeal an adverse ruling only
after the trial court renders a final judgment. (Code Civ.
Proc., § 904.1.) The question in this case concerns the
application of this general rule when a trial court has
granted a petition for writ of administrative mandamus and
remanded the matter for proceedings before an administrative
body. The issuance of the writ did not definitively resolve
the dispute between the parties, but it did mark the end of
the writ proceeding in the trial court. Is the court's
order an appealable final judgment? We conclude that it is,
and we reverse the contrary judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Jatinder Dhillon is a thoracic surgeon with clinical
privileges at two San Francisco Bay Area hospitals owned and
operated by defendant John Muir Health (John Muir). In
October 2011, one of Dr. Dhillon's colleagues lodged a
complaint against him, claiming that he had been verbally
abusive and physically aggressive toward her during an
administrative meeting. Dr. Dhillon denied the allegations
and requested that John Muir appoint an ad hoc committee of
physicians from both hospital campuses to look into the
matter. John Muir complied. After an investigation, the
committee submitted a report to a joint medical executive
committee (MEC) for both hospitals. It concluded that neither
Dr. Dhillon nor the complaining doctor had behaved in a
professional manner, and it recommended that the two doctors
either meet with a mediator to resolve their differences or
attend an anger management program. At a joint meeting held
in June 2012, the MEC unanimously voted to require both
doctors to attend a specified anger management class within
Dhillon refused to attend, asserting that the requirement
that he participate in the anger management class was
“unfounded and unfair.” In July 2013, John Muir
sent Dr. Dhillon a letter informing him that the MEC had
concluded that if he did not attend the class within one
month, his clinical privileges would be suspended for
“a period of just under 14 full days.” Dr.
Dhillon requested a hearing with John Muir's judicial
review committee (JRC). John Muir replied that Dr. Dhillon
was not entitled to such a hearing.
September 2013, Dr. Dhillon filed a petition for writ of
administrative mandamus in the Contra Costa Superior Court,
naming John Muir and its board of directors as respondents.
As later amended, the petition alleged that John Muir had
violated its bylaws by imposing the discipline without a
hearing before the JRC. He asked the trial court to order a
hearing before the JRC or some other appropriate body, to
direct John Muir to vacate its imposition of discipline, to
find that John Muir's bylaws “violate due process
and are unenforceable where the [resulting] discipline
affect[s] the accused Practitioner's clinical reporting
and disclosure requirements, ” to order John Muir not
to make disparaging comments about Dr. Dhillon regarding the
matter, and to authorize Dr. Dhillon to file suit against
John Muir for damages.
superior court granted the writ petition in part. It
concluded that John Muir's bylaws entitled Dr. Dhillon to
a hearing before the JRC or another appropriate body and that
“he was deprived of... due process when John Muir...
suspended his clinical privileges... without providing him a
hearing.” It issued a peremptory writ directing John
Muir to conduct such a hearing. In all other respects the
court denied the petition for administrative mandamus.
Muir filed a notice of appeal. It also filed a petition for
writ of mandate and/or prohibition in the Court of Appeal,
challenging the trial court's ruling. After soliciting
informal opposition from Dr. Dhillon, the Court of Appeal
summarily denied the writ petition. On the same day, it
issued an order in John Muir's appeal directing the
parties to brief the question whether the trial court's
order directing John Muir to conduct a hearing was
appealable. After reviewing the parties' briefs, the
Court of Appeal issued an order dismissing the appeal. The
order explained: “The superior court's order
remanding the matter to John Muir Health is not a final,
appealable order. (See Board of Dental Examiners v.
Superior Court (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 1424; ...