Does hospital's sovereign immunity cover its CEO?

Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Position:Hospital Law Case of the Month
 
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CASE ON POINT: Titus Reg. Med. Ctr. v. Tretta, No. 06-05-00060-CV (Tex. App. Dist 6 11/21/2005) S.W.3d -TX

ISSUE: Is a hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) covered by the sovereign immunity a federal, state, or municipal hospital may have? That was just one of many issues with which the Texas courts were confronted in this unusual case in which a physician brought suit against a hospital for tort, breach of contract, defamation, conspiracy, and statutory violations that allegedly damages his professional and personal reputation and resulted in what he alleged was a conspiracy to improperly investigate him for professional incompetence and falsely report to the National Practictioner's Data Bank (NPDB) that he had "resigned" from the hospital while under investigation

CASE FACTS: Dr. Joseph Tretta sued Titus Regional Medical Center and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Steve Jacobson, individually. Dr. Trotta raised numerous claims sounding in tort, breach of contract, defamation, conspiracy, and statutory violations that allegedly damaged his professional and personal reputation, his business, and his prospects for future employment. The principal basis for the suit was Dr. Tretta's allegation that, when one of his patients died after he performed endoscopic sinus surgery on her, Jacobson and the hospital set out to damage his professional practice and reputation and forced him to leave the hospital through a conspiracy to improperly investigate him for professional incompetence and falsely report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) that he resigned from the hospital while he was being investigated. The defendants filed motions to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment based on claims that Jacobson was entitled to official immunity as to all claims against him, and the hospital was entitled to sovereign immunity from both suit and liability as to contractual claims against it. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and pleas to dismiss, sustaining Jacobson's claim of official immunity as to the tort claims, but denied the motion and pleas as to all other claims. The trial court denied the hospital's motion for summary judgment for sovereign immunity on the contract, declaratory, and injunctive relief claims. The defendants appealed.

COURT'S OPINION: The Court of Appeals of Texas affirmed the trial court's order granting the defendants Jacobson and the hospital's motion for summary claim as to...

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