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Doctor’s Legal Malpractice Claim Against Attorneys Who Handled License Revocation Dismissed

In this case, Eskridge v. Fletcher, Court of Appeals of Washington, Division One, No. 78013-1-l, a medical doctor sued the lawyers who unsuccessfully represented him in his license revocation proceeding. The record indicated that there was substantial evidence that Dr. Eskridge had acted inappropriately towards other doctors and patients. As a result, the hospital revoked his admission privileges. After an internal review, Dr. Eskridge’s privileges were revoked. On the advice of the defendant lawyers, Eskridge elected not to appeal that determination.

The malpractice lawsuit alleged that, had the appeal been filed, it would have been successful and Eskridge would have retained his privileges.

The trial court disagreed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that he could not show by clear and convincing evidence (the standard used in the medical revocation proceeding) that, but for the error by the lawyer, he would have prevailed in his appeal. The discussion follows:

If the plaintiff “`fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial,'” summary judgment is proper. Young, 112 Wn.2d at 225 (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). Because Dr. Eskridge must meet the burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that the recommendation of MEC was arbitrary or unreasonable, we incorporate that standard of proof in our assessment of the evidence on summary judgment. Portmann v. Herard, 2 Wn. App. 2d 452, 462-63, 409 P.3d 1199 (2018)……

We conclude Dr. Eskridge could not show by clear and convincing evidence that but for the alleged breach of the standard of care, the recommendation to revoke his medical privileges lacked a factual basis or the conclusions drawn from the facts were arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. We affirm summary judgment dismissal of the lawsuit.