The Court of Appeals for the State of California has overruled a trial court decision holding a summary suspension was not a formal proceeding entitled to Anti-SLAPP protection. In Arunasalam v. St. Mary Medical Center, Dr. Arunasalam was summarily suspended for disruptive conduct and sought a Medical Staff Hearing, but the Medical Staff Hearing was delayed because of the resignation of one of the hearing panel members during the proceedings. While proceedings were ongoing to convene a new panel, Dr. Arunasalam sought injunctive relief. 

The hospital moved to strike the petition for injunctive relief under the provisions of the Anti-SLAPP statute, which is California’s statute protecting administrative proceedings from "strategic lawsuits against public participation." The intent of the statute is to prevent frivolous suits against formal governmental proceedings in order to allow the proceedings to follow the statutorily mandated course of action.

The trail court held that a summary suspension was not a formal proceeding under California law, and therefore the Anti-SLAPP did not apply.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court holding that a summary suspension was part of the formal proceedings included in the California statute regulating medical staff proceedings.

View a PDF of the case.