A recent Allegheny County Court Case clearly establishes that the enforceability of restrictive covenants is not an urban myth; they are enforceable and vigorously litigated. In Allegheny Specialty Practice Network and the West Penn Allegheny Health System v. Joseph J. Colella, M.D., ASPN and WPAHS obtained a preliminary injunction prohibiting Dr. Colella from practicing within Allegheny County as an employee of UPMC. A detailed lengthy opinion cogently explains the facts and rationale for the enforcement of restrictive covenants in this particular case and in Pennsylvania in general.
In issuing the preliminary injunction, the Court preliminarily enjoined Dr. Colella from entering into or fulfilling the terms of any employment agreement or any other contract of any type to provide medically related services with Allegheny County, Pennsylvania for any other hospital, healthcare provider or surgery center outside the West Penn Allegheny Health System for a two- year period, as well as prohibiting Dr. Colella from soliciting plaintiff’s employees or sharing any confidential information. In doing so the Court made the following conclusions of the law:
1. Plaintiff has established the immediate and irreparable harm requirement for preliminary injunctive relief.
2. Greater injury would result from refusing the injunction than from granting it and the issuance of an injunction would not substantially harm Dr. Colella.
3. A preliminary injunction will properly restore the parties to the status quo as it existed immediately prior to the wrongful conduct.
4. Plaintiff is likely to prevail on the merits regarding the claim of breach of contract to enforce restrictive covenants in the employment agreement.
5. A preliminary injunction is reasonably suited to address the wrong plead and proven.
6. A preliminary injunction will not adversely affect the public interest.
The Court recognized in healthcare situations that the public interest will be adversely affected if the injunction would adversely affect the general availability of physician to treat patients, although no jurisdiction has recognized the public interest in assuring the unrestricted ability of a particular patient in continuity of care with a single physician. Accordingly, in the rare cases where Pennsylvania Courts have invoked the public interest in declining to enforce covenants not to compete against the physician, the evidence clearly established there was a legitimate shortage of practitioners in the relevant area. The Court found that not to be the case in the present situation.
Category: Restrictive Covenants
Tags: UPMC, WPAHS, "Physician Restrictive Covenants" "Joseph Colella" ASPN