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Williams v. Columbus Clinic, P.C.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

June 15, 2015

WILLIAMS
v.
THE COLUMBUS CLINIC, P.C

Reconsideration denied July 2, 2015.

Employment contract. Muscogee Superior Court. Before Judge Peters.

Judgment reversed.

Martin & Martin, Thomas F. Martin, Kimberly N. Martin; Chilivis, Cochran, Larkins & Bever, John K. Larkins, Jr., for appellant.

Constangy, Brooks & Smith, Glen R. Fagan, for appellee.

ANDREWS, Presiding Judge. Miller and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 458

Andrews, Presiding Judge.

After the Columbus Clinic, P.C. (the " Clinic" ) terminated Reginald A. Williams' employment as a physician, Williams filed a complaint in the trial court asserting claims for breach of contract. The parties filed cross-motions for partial summary judgment as to the [332 Ga.App. 715] Clinic's liability on Count 1 of the complaint, which alleged that the Clinic violated the termination provisions of Williams' employment agreement, and the trial court granted the Clinic's motion and denied Williams' motion. Williams appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that the Clinic was authorized to terminate his employment for cause when a hospital " restricted" his privileges by imposing a proctorship on him. As set forth below, we conclude that a genuine issue of material fact remains as to whether the proctorship was a restriction of privileges, and we therefore reverse.

On appeal from the grant of summary judgment this Court conducts a de novo review of the evidence to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact and whether the undisputed facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, warrant judgment as a matter of law.

(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Del Lago Ventures v. QuikTrip Corp., 330 Ga.App. 138, 139 (764 S.E.2d 595) (2014).

Page 459

So viewed, the record shows that Williams and the Clinic entered into a Physician Employment Agreement (the " Agreement" ) on December 31, 2008 under which Williams was to " provide professional medical and surgical services on behalf of [the Clinic] as an exclusive employee of [the Clinic]" and receive a salary as set forth in Exhibit A to the Agreement. The term of the Agreement was for one year from its " Commencement Date" of January 15, 2009, and the Agreement provided that " [u]nless terminated as provided herein, this Agreement shall automatically renew for successive terms of one (1) year each upon the anniversary date of the Commencement Date." Section 7.1 of the Agreement sets forth the circumstances in which the Clinic was entitled to terminate the Agreement for cause and provides in relevant part:

[The Clinic] shall ... have the right to terminate this Agreement immediately, with cause, upon written notice to Physician if: ... (ii) Physician's privileges or staff membership at any hospital are terminated, revoked, suspended (other than for infrequent occurrences due to the failure to complete medical records in a timely manner), restricted, or terminated in any way (except for ...

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