New York law: Pacheco v. UMA

David A. Szwak

New York law: Pacheco v. UMA

Postby David A. Szwak » Sat Dec 03, 2005 11:09 am

Pacheco v. United Medical Associates, P.C.,
305 A.D.2d 711, 759 N.Y.S.2d 556, 2003 N.Y. Slip Op. 13505, N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept., May 01, 2003

Physician sued former employer and operator of hospitals and clinics, alleging tortious interference with employment contract, tortious interference with prospective business relations, race-based disparate impact discrimination, and violations of Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Supreme Court, Broome County, Relihan, Jr., J., dismissed claims. Physician appealed. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Mercure, J.P., held that: (1) claim for tortious interference with contract was barred by res judicata; (2) physician failed to state claim for tortious interference with prospective business relations; (3) claim for disparate impact discrimination was barred by res judicata; (4) physician failed to state claim for violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act; and (5) trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying physician's motion to amend complaint.
Affirmed.

Physician failed to state claim for tortious interference with prospective business relations, in action against former employer and against operator of facilities in which former employer's physicians practiced, since there was no allegation that physician was actually and wrongfully prevented from entering into or continuing in specific business relationship as result of employer's conduct.

To recover damages for tortious interference with prospective business relations, plaintiff must demonstrate both wrongful means and that wrongful acts were proximate cause of rejection of plaintiff's proposed contractual relations.

Plaintiff's second cause of action, for tortious interference with prospective business relations, arises out of his allegations that defendants refused to see his patients or directed his patients to UMA physicians, and that UMA sent a letter "to the entire medical community * * * informing them that they were not to have any dealing with Plaintiff because he left UMA." Plaintiff asserts that these actions harmed his prospective business relationships with his established patients. Plaintiff also claims that defendant Nancy Shumeyko, a UMA member physician, interfered with his business with other treating physicians and UHS hospitals by refusing to see one of his patients.
**559 [3] In order to recover damages for tortious interference with prospective business relations, a plaintiff must demonstrate both "wrongful means" and "that the wrongful acts were the proximate cause of the rejection of the plaintiff's proposed contractual relations" (Jabbour v. Albany Med. Ctr., 237 A.D.2d 787, 790, 654 N.Y.S.2d 862; see *713 Chemfab Corp. v. Integrated Liner Tech., 263 A.D.2d 788, 790-791, 693 N.Y.S.2d 752). Here, plaintiff has not alleged how or whether his contractual relationships, prospective or current, with specific patients, UHS or other treating physicians were actually damaged by defendants' conduct. That is, "there is no allegation that plaintiff was actually and wrongfully prevented from entering into or continuing in a specific business relationship as a result of defendants' conduct" (Korn v. Princz, 226 A.D.2d 278, 279, 641 N.Y.S.2d 283 [citation omitted] ). Thus, the complaint fails to state a cause of action sounding in tortious interference with prospective business relations.

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