New Jersey court vacates neurosurgeons' $24M verdict in hospital privileges dispute


New Jersey Supreme Court overturned a multimillion-dollar verdict awarded to a neurosurgery practice that sued a hospital over a privileges dispute, according to an April 16 opinion.

A jury awarded Hackensack, N.J.-based Comprehensive Neurosurgical $24.3 million in a trial against the Valley Hospital in Paramus, N.J. The 11-physician practice alleged the hospital didn't "deal with them fairly or act in good faith when it granted another group of neurosurgeons exclusive privileges in areas for which plaintiffs had held privileges," the opinion said.

Comprehensive Neurosurgical began working with the hospital in 2003 and had hospital and admitting privileges as well as the right to cover unassigned emergency patients. They also gained privileges at a nearby hospital that opened in 2013. 

But in 2015, the Valley Hospital granted privileges to a different neurosurgery group, revoking Comprehensive Neurosurgical's rights in some areas. Comprehensive Neurosurgical argued that the move wasn't "a valid administrative healthcare decision, but rather a form of retaliation for their perceived disloyalty in joining the new hospital."

The hospital appealed the verdict on grounds that the jury had access to privileged emails that "had the capacity to lead the jury to reach a verdict it would not have otherwise," the court opinion said.

The court decided to reverse the verdict and remand the matter for further proceedings.

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