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Law School Case Brief

Treister v. Am. Acad. of Orthopaedic Surgeons - 78 Ill. App. 3d 746, 33 Ill. Dec. 501, 396 N.E.2d 1225 (1979)

Rule:

The courts can review the application procedures of a private association when membership in the organization is an economic necessity. 

Facts:

After plaintiff Michael R. Treister, M.D. was denied membership into a private professional association for orthopaedic surgeons, he brought an action challenging the denial. The doctor's complaint contained three counts in which he challenged the association's rejection of his application, alleged denial of his due process rights in the application process, and breach of contract arising from his membership application. The trial court dismissed the second and third counts, and certified a question to the appellate court as to whether the first count of the doctor's complaint stated a cause of action.

Issue:

Did the trial court have jurisdiction to review the membership application procedures and decision of the association?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of counts two and three and reversed as to the first count, finding that none of the counts stated a cause of action. The court held that the trial court could have reviewed the application procedures of a private association when membership in the organization was an economic necessity. However, the doctor was board certified and on staff at seven hospitals without benefit of the membership in the association and did not allege that association membership was an economic necessity. Absent a showing of economic necessity, the trial court had to refrain from interfering in the association's decision. A lower standard would have invited judicial review of every rejected application by an association. The court also rejected the doctor's contention that he had a right to have his application considered according to the bylaws, finding that the bylaws only bound the parties after admission.

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