Thank you for your question.
This is a very interesting question and the truth is that there is not a simple answer. Without looking at the documents involved, its hard to determine the strength of the physician's case.
The physician needs to put forth the affirmative defense
that there is no contract
between it and the supplier. It will simply be a matter of proof and a matter of interpretation as to the actual documents underlying the supply arrangment. The fact that the credit application was signed in the name of the corporation may not in fact be adequate to relieve the physician of personal liability, if the physician signed an agreement stating that he was the purchaser and would be responsible for payment.
If there is no actual agreement, but only an order from the physician and a credit application from the company, then the court will have to decide whether there is an agreement that the company would be the party responsible to pay rather than the physician.
In other words, it is what is called a "question of fact", which must be decided by the court/jury in a trial.
It makes absolute sense that the Plaintiff is suing the physician directly, as the company is out of business and does not have any assets from which to pay the bill. The Plaintiff has to make this argument in order to attempt to recover.
The physician must strongly defend the case and show that there was never an expectation that the physician would be personally liable for payment. This may be established through the wording of the underlying documentation, as previously stated, and by conducting discovery with the supplier to see how they treat their other customers. In other words, if the physician shows that in every other arrangement that the supplier has, it is expecting payment from the company employing the ordering physician rather than the ordering physician himself, then this will establish an "industry standard" and prove the physician's case. The physician could also appoint an expert in hospital administration who could come in and testify as to this arrangement on behalf of the physician
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