United States District Court, D. Kansas
FREDRICK J. FARMER, D.O., Plaintiff,
STAFFORD COUNTY HOSPITAL; RICHARD S. CARTER, M.D.; CARTER PROFESSIONAL CARE STAFFORD, LLC; and TODD TAYLOR, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Fredrick J. Farmer, D.O. brings suit against Defendants
Stafford County Hospital (“Hospital”); Richard S.
Carter, M.D.; Carter Professional Care Stafford, LLC; and
Todd Taylor. Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated the
Hospital's Bylaws, Rules, and Regulations of the
Professional Staff (“Bylaws”) when they forwarded
adverse standard of care findings to the Kansas Board of
Healing Arts (“KBOHA”) prior to giving him a
hearing to challenge the adverse findings. Plaintiff brings
seven claims relating to Defendants' conduct.
have now filed a Motion to Stay Case and Compel Arbitration
(Doc. 9). Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims are
subject to an arbitration provision in his Physician Contract
Labor Agreement (“Agreement”). Thus, they assert
that the Court should stay the case and compel arbitration.
Because the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims do not
arise out of or relate to the Agreement, the Court denies
Factual and Procedural Background
has been a licensed physician in Kansas since 1980. Many
years ago, he applied for and received medical privileges to
practice at Defendant Hospital. He has maintained those
privileges through the current day.
Bylaws govern the responsibilities of the practicing
physicians and their professional associates. Among other
things, they set forth procedures and protocol to be followed
when there is a report, investigation, or peer review finding
that implicates a member of the Hospital's medical staff.
As a medical provider, Plaintiff relied upon the promises and
representations contained in the Bylaws.
2017, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendant Todd Taylor
(the Hospital's administrator) stating that an
independent peer review firm had found adverse standard of
care findings with regard to two of Plaintiff's charts.
The letter informed Plaintiff that these findings had already
been reviewed, accepted, and forwarded on to the KBOHA.
Plaintiff contacted counsel, and his counsel then demanded
that the Hospital afford Plaintiff due process rights. In
addition, Plaintiff's counsel stated that there were
defamatory statements in Defendant Taylor's letter.
to reach an understanding or agreement, Plaintiff filed his
lawsuit in state court on October 16, 2017, asserting seven
claims based on Defendants' alleged improper forwarding
of false findings to the KBOHA and refusal to provide
documents to Plaintiff to challenge the findings. These
include: (1) breach of contract, (2) tortious interference
with contract, (3) promissory estoppel and detrimental
reliance, (4) defamation and injury to privacy interests, (5)
retaliation, (6) violation of free speech, and (7) violation
of procedural due process rights. On October 20, Plaintiff
also filed an application for a temporary injunction because
it appeared that Defendants intended to take adverse action
against Plaintiff's credentials or Hospital privileges at
an upcoming meeting on November 14.
removed the case to federal court on November 10. Plaintiff
then filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. A
hearing was held on November 14. The Court granted
Plaintiff's motion to enjoin Defendants from taking any
further adverse action against Plaintiff's privileges at
the Hospital or his medical license until he was given notice
and an opportunity to be heard and present evidence before
the Hospital. The parties requested multiple continuances of
the scheduled preliminary injunction hearing. In April, the
parties filed a Joint Motion to Dissolve the Temporary
Restraining Order stating that the parties reached an
agreement resolving the issues to be decided by the
preliminary injunction hearing.
meantime, Defendants filed a Motion to Stay Case and Compel
Arbitration. Separate from the Bylaws, Plaintiff has an
Agreement with the Hospital's Board of Trustees. The
parties entered this Agreement on January 1, 2017. In this
Agreement, an arbitration clause provides:
Arbitration. Any claim, controversy or dispute
arising out of or relating to this Agreement, except as set
forth herein, shall be settled by arbitration in Wichita,
Kansas, in accordance with the rules for arbitration of the
American Health Lawyers Association. A single arbitrator
shall be used. Any arbitration shall be undertaken pursuant
to the Federal Arbitration Act, where possible, and the
decision of the arbitrators shall be final, binding, and
enforceable in any court of competent jurisdiction. The
arbitrators may not award punitive, consequential or indirect
damages. Each party hereby waives the right to such damages
and agrees to receive only those actual damages directly
resulting from the claim asserted. Each party shall cover
their own costs, including reasonable attorneys' [fees].
In resolving all disputes between the parties, the arbitrator
will apply the laws of the State of Kansas. The parties will
be entitled to conduct document and other discovery to the
extent permitted by the arbitrators. The parties shall keep
the proceedings private and confidential.
Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claims relate to his
employment and are therefore covered by the arbitration
provision. Plaintiff disagrees.
is a matter of contract, and a party must arbitrate only
those disputes that they have agreed to submit to
arbitration. If a contract contains an arbitration
provision, there is a presumption of
arbitrability. Whether the parties agreed to arbitrate a
dispute is an issue for judicial determination unless the
parties clearly and unmistakably provide
otherwise. Whether there is an enforceable
arbitration agreement is a matter of state contract law to be
decided by the court. A defendant seeking to compel arbitration
has the initial burden to show enough evidence of an
enforceable agreement to arbitrate. If the ...