Hardin County Government’s motion to dismiss a complaint filed in Hardin Circuit Court seeking to stop the sale of Hardin Memorial Health was denied Tuesday morning and a hearing to move the case forward has been set for September.
Larry Hall, former chief of staff at Hardin Memorial Hospital, filed a civil suit in July against Hardin County Government and Baptist Healthcare Systems. Citing state law regarding the operation of county government and procedures for selling property, Hall’s complaint asked the court to set aside Hardin Fiscal Court’s May 22 vote authorizing the sale of HMH.
Baptist Health and Hardin County jointly filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Baptist Health’s dismissal was granted, while the county’s was denied.
Judge Kelly Mark Easton set September 12 for a hearing.
Hardin County was represented in court by Jason Bell of Bell, Hess and Van Zant, PLLC, and Hardin County Attorney Jenny Oldham. Baptist Health was represented by Marjorie Farris of Stites and Harbison of Louisville. Hall was represented by Jim Kelley of Kelley Law Office in Elizabethtown.
Easton started the hearing by addressing Baptist Health’s motion to dismiss the complaint against them. Farris said the complaint was focused on the process the county used when receiving proposals for the sale of the hospital. She said Baptist merely was a participant in that process.
Easton said he understood Baptist’s stance. He said if Baptist did not want to be a part of the litigation, they cannot later complain if the decision of the court negatively impacts them. Easton granted Baptist’s motion for dismissal.
In Hardin County’s motion to dismiss, attorneys contended the plaintiff does not have a standing to challenge official acts of Hardin Fiscal Court by virtue of his residency or taxpayer status in Hardin County.
Bell summarized three former cases — Catchen v. City Park Hills, Carrico v. City of Owensboro and Deters v. Kenton County Public Library — where similar claims as Hall’s complaint have been dismissed by Kentucky’s circuit and appellate courts on a basis that litigants lack standing to assert them. The cases were cited in the county’s motion.
Easton said none of those cases are factually the same as this case.
As for the complaint, Easton said he didn’t see any specific allegations in it. He said the complaint claims the sale “was negotiated in secret and in violation of KRS 67.080 and KRS 67.0802.”
Easton said he thought the right thing to do is to proceed and see what comes out, referring to it as a declaration of rights case in denying the county’s dismissal motion.