from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Mary E.
anesthesiologist appeals (1) the dismissal of his action
alleging his former practice group violated the Iowa
Competition Law and (2) the grant of summary judgment on his
claims for breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and
Michael M. Sellers of Sellers, Galenbeck & Nelson, Des
Moines, for appellant.
L. Zaiger and Kerry A. Finley for Shuttleworth &
Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellee.
by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
Dr. Rimas Nemickas was practicing with Linn County
Anesthesiologists, P.C. (LCA), the group entered into
exclusive contracts with two Cedar Rapids hospitals. After
the practice group terminated his employment contract, Dr.
Nemickas sued LCA under Iowa's anti-monopoly statute,
Iowa Code section 553.5 (2015). Dr. Nemickas also accused LCA
of breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and tortious
interference. The district court granted LCA's motion to
dismiss the section 553.5 action, finding the doctor lacked
standing to bring a state antitrust claim. The district court
issued summary judgment for LCA on the remaining claims. Dr.
Nemickas now challenges the district court's rejection of
his amended pleadings, the dismissal of his antitrust suit,
and the grant of summary judgment. We find no abuse of
discretion in the district court's handling of the myriad
of amended pleadings filed by Dr. Nemickas. And we find no
legal error in the district court's dismissal of the
antitrust action or its grant of summary judgment on the
contract-related claims. Accordingly, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
Nemickas is a board-certified doctor of medicine and
anesthesiology. He joined LCA in 1999 and became a
shareholder of the practice in 2005. In 2012, LCA entered
into separate contracts with two Cedar Rapids hospitals,
Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital, to be their
exclusive provider of anesthesiology services. Two years
later, in July 2014, LCA notified Dr. Nemickas that the
officers of the practice would recommend his contract not be
renewed as of December 2014. In August 2014, Dr. Nemickas
filed a petition at law and requested a temporary restraining
order against LCA's employment action. The petition also
alleged a breach of contract by LCA.
district court restrained LCA from holding its board meeting
to consider Dr. Nemickas's employment status until after
the parties conducted mediation as spelled out in the
employment agreement. In September, the court expanded its
injunction, ordering mediation occur within thirty days as
set out in amendments to the agreement and that LCA provide
Dr. Nemickas with ten days' written notice of the
mediation and a list of specific events contributing to its
decision not to renew his contract.
provided Dr. Nemickas with notice on October 1 of the
grievance committee meeting set for October 14. The practice
also provided reasons for its proposed action, a series of
complaints dating from 2000 to 2014 "demonstrating a
lack of diligence regarding patient care." The list
included: "complaints and reports from charge nurses at
both Mercy and St. Luke's of a routine failure to review
patient charts prior to administering anesthetic, "
"making social plans on phone while patient moving on
table, " "several incidents of falling asleep,
" and "inattentiveness to patients during general
anesthesia while talking on phone". LCA also provided
reports and complaints dating from 2000 to 2013 reflecting
"disruptive and inappropriate conduct" by Dr.
Nemickas, including "multiple events centered around
explosive personality and inappropriate conversations in
front of awake patients and Dr. Nemickas denying having any
problem at follow up meeting." LCA summarized:
"Based on chronic and recurring issues the Practice did
not find Dr. Nemickas's behavior and performance
consistent with the Practice's mission statement."
Dr. Nemickas submitted a ten-page response to LCA's
concerns to the grievance committee.
its October 14 meeting, the grievance committee recommended
LCA's concerns be considered by all shareholders in
December 2014. Some data findings gathered by the grievance
committee were sent late to Nemickas, but he received them
before the scheduled meeting. Dr. Nemickas filed a request to
enjoin any meeting to address his employment status which the
district court denied. Dr. Nemickas was not present when the
grievance committee presented to the LCA, but was able to
make his own presentation and participate in the shareholder
vote. After hearing presentations from both sides,
twenty-four shareholders voted to issue Dr. Nemickas a
ninety-day notice of "voluntary termination"; four
opposed the motion and one abstained. On December 12, LCA
sent Dr. Nemickas written notice of termination effective
March 14, 2015. The doctor filed a fourth request for
injunctive relief on March 2, asking the court to set aside
LCA's decision to terminate his contract. The court
denied the request. On March 14, Dr. Nemickas resigned his
position with LCA. Both Mercy and St. Luke's advised Dr.
Nemickas that he could not provide anesthesia services
because of their exclusive contracts with LCA. But Dr.
Nemickas continued to provide anesthesia services at the
Surgery Center of Cedar Rapids under his St. Luke's
April 2015, Dr. Nemickas filed an amended and substituted
petition alleging three counts: breach of contract,
fraudulent inducement, and antitrust violations under chapter
553. In May 2015, the court granted leave to amend. In June
2015, LCA filed a partial motion to dismiss, asserting Dr.
Nemickas lacked standing to pursue the state antitrust claim.
the summer of 2015, Dr. Nemickas tried repeatedly to amend
his amended and substituted petition. On July 24, 2015, Dr.
Nemickas filed a motion for leave to amend his petition to
add a count of tortious interference. The motion also sought
to change the caption to assert he was bringing the action
"on behalf of himself and consumers of anesthesia
services." LCA resisted the proposed amendment, arguing
Dr. Nemickas lacked third-party standing to assert the
chapter 553 action on behalf of unidentified consumers. In a
third motion to amend filed August 12, Dr. Nemickas sought
permission to add Mercy and St. Luke's hospitals as
defendants in his antitrust action. LCA resisted.
district court granted LCA's partial motion to dismiss on
October 5, 2015. In that same ruling, the court denied Dr.
Nemickas's motion to file a second amended and
substituted petition. After a series of filings by Dr.
Nemickas seeking reconsideration, the district court
confirmed the dismissal on December 10. Dr. Nemickas sought
interlocutory review of that ruling, which our supreme court
filed a motion for summary judgment in May 2016 with respect
to Dr. Nemickas's claims for breach of contract, tortious
interference, and fraudulent inducement. The motion noted the
court had not granted Dr. Nemickas express permission to
amend his petition to include the tortious interference claim
but asserted LCA did not resist the motion to amend with
respect to that claim. In August 2016, the district court
granted LCA's motion for summary judgment in its entirety
and ordered Dr. Nemickas to resign his clinical privileges
and to "cease and desist" practicing anesthesia at
St. Luke's Hospital. Dr. Nemickas appeals.
Scope and Standards of Review
Nemickas contends because he requested remedies in equity
regarding the antitrust claim, our review should be de novo.
See Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. LCA disagrees, arguing
appellate review of dismissals for lack of standing in
antitrust suits is for the correction of legal error. See
Southard v. Visa U.S.A. Inc., 743 N.W.2d 192, 194 (Iowa
2007). We agree with LCA. We review the dismissal for errors
at law. Comes v. Microsoft Corp., 646 N.W.2d 440,
442 (Iowa 2002). We will affirm "if the petition shows
no right of recovery under any state of the facts."
Id. (citing Barnes v. State, 611 N.W.2d
290, 292 (Iowa 2000)). We consider the petition's
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Nemickas asks us to review the district court's denial of
his motions to amend for the correction of errors at law. LCA
argues our review is for abuse of discretion. See Rife v.
D.T. Corner, Inc., 641 N.W.2d 761, 766 (Iowa 2002).
("We afford district courts considerable discretion in
ruling on motions for leave to amend pleadings." (citing
Davis v. Ottumwa YMCA, 438 N.W.2d 10, 14 (Iowa
1989))). LCA is again correct, we will only reverse
"when a clear abuse of discretion has been shown."
See Davis, 438 N.W.2d at 14 (citing B & B
Asphalt Co. v. T.S. McShane Co., 242 N.W.2d 279, 284
parties agree we review the grant of summary judgment for the
correction of legal error. See Baker v. City of Iowa
City, 867 N.W.2d 44, 51 (Iowa 2015).
A.Did the District Court Properly Dismiss the ...