United States District Court, D. Delaware
LYNN E. TALLEY, D.O., Plaintiff,
CHRISTIANA CARE HEALTH SYSTEM, MATTHEW K. HOFFMAN, MD, and KENNETH L. SILVERSTEIN, MD, Defendants.
Michele D. Allen and Catilyn E. Quinn, ALLEN AND ASSOCIATES,
Hockessin, DE, Attorneys for Plaintiff.
J. Cline and James H. S. Levine, PEPPER HAMILTON LLP,
Wilmington, DE; Barbara T. Sicalides, Barak A. Bassman, and
Megan Morley, PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, Philadelphia, PA,
Attorneys for Defendants.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Lynn Talley ("Plaintiff) now presses
only Delaware state law claims against Defendants Matthew K.
Hoffman, M.D. ("Dr. Hoffman"), Kenneth L.
Silverstein, M.D. ("Dr. Silverstein") and
Christiana Care Health System ("Christiana Care")
(collectively, "Defendants"). In the operative
Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), Plaintiff alleges
breach of contract against Christiana Care (Count I),
defamation against Christiana Care (Count II), interference
with prospective economic advantage against all Defendants
(Count III), tortious interference with contractual relations
against all Defendants (Count IV), and breach of the covenant
of good faith and fair dealing (Count V) against Christiana
Care. (D.I. 67) Presently before the Court is Defendants Dr.
Hoffman and Dr. Silverstein's (collectively, the
"Individual Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Counts
III and IV of the SAC against them, which is filed pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the
"Motion"). (D.I. 70) For the reasons set forth below,
the Court GRANTS the Motion with prejudice.
is a board-certified physician in the field of obstetrics and
gynecology ("OB-GYN" or "OB/GYN"). (D.I.
67 at ¶¶ 2, 15) She is a resident of Pennsylvania
and previously had a private practice in Newark, Delaware.
(Id. at ¶¶ 2, 10)
Care, a teaching hospital, is a private, non-profit
corporation with its headquarters located in Newark,
Delaware. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 34) Dr. Hoffman works
in Delaware as the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at
Christiana Care. (Id. at ¶ 4) Dr. Silverstein
works in Delaware as the Chief Clinical Officer of Christiana
Care. (Id. at ¶ 5)
Plaintiffs Tenure at Christiana Care and the Events Leading
to Her Termination
a member of the Medical-Dental Staff at Christiana Care from
1982 until her termination on July 15, 2016, was granted
privileges to practice medicine at Christiana Care in
accordance with the Medical-Dental Staff Bylaws
("Bylaws") and the Medical-Dental Staff Credentials
Manual ("Credentials Manual"). (Id. at
set out in the SAC, Plaintiffs tenure with Christiana Care
was rocky at times. The SAC describes how Plaintiff: (1) was
at one point placed on a "Focused Professional Practice
Evaluation[;]" (2) was required in 2014 to take a
voluntary leave of absence; and (3) was removed from the
teaching service for four weeks in 2015, due to complaints
made against her by residents. (Id. at ¶¶
25, 27-28, 43-44) In various ways, Plaintiff alleges that
these negative employment actions were not due to her fault,
but due to the wrongful acts of her colleagues.
around March 24, 2016, Christiana Care precautionarily
suspended Plaintiff by way of a letter sent to Plaintiff by
Dr. Silverstein. (Id. at ¶ 47; D.I. 71, ex. A)
According to the letter, this suspension came about because,
inter alia, Plaintiff had not appropriately handled
a Cesarean Section that Plaintiff performed on a patient on
March 15, 2016, and because, more generally, Plaintiffs
behavior and interactions did not promote a working
environment that was '"conducive to team-based
patient care'" or to the '"education of
residents.'" (D.I. 67 at ¶ 50; D.I. 71, ex. A)
Because her privileges were now suspended, Plaintiff had to
seek immediate coverage for her patients. (D.I. 67 at ¶
54) Plaintiff asserts that Christiana Care's ultimate
intention with this suspension was for its OB-GYN
hospitalists and its OB-GYN group in Greenville, Delaware to
absorb Plaintiffs patients. (Id. at ¶ 56)
Plaintiff alleges that on or about April 21, 2016, Dr.
Hoffman was sent a report via e-mail regarding provider
Cesarean Section rates for the period January 2013 through
2016. (Id. at ¶ 73) According to the data in
the report, Plaintiff had performed 470 procedures during the
listed time period. (Id. at ¶ 75) Plaintiff
thus alleges that Dr. Hoffman was aware of the contractual
relationship that Plaintiff had with these patients, and that