A hospital trustee in Chester, S.C., has sued his fellow board members and a separate county board to determine which board legally governs 154-bed Chester County Hospital and Nursing Center.
In the lawsuit, hospital Vice Chairman John Agee challenged the six-member Chester County Council's right to appoint trustees to the 13-member Chester County Hospital board of trustees. A Chester County ordinance passed in the early 1980s entitles each member of the county council to appoint two trustees to the hospital board. The council jointly appoints the 13th member, usually a local physician who is recommended by the Chester County Medical Society. The suit claims a county ordinance passed in 1947 makes the hospital an organization separate from the county council and supersedes more recent statutes.
Agee was appointed to the hospital board in 1997 by county council member Tom Funderburk. Agee sued successfully last year to retain his seat when Funderburk attempted to remove him. Agee's lawyer, Mark White, said Agee retained his seat as part of the county council's settlement of the suit.
"Mr. Agee has filed this lawsuit to insulate the hospital from the politics of Chester County," White said. He added that the county council has been appointing hospital trustees since 1981.
Agee filed the suit Feb. 12 in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. He distributed copies of the suit at a joint meeting that evening between the hospital and county council boards. A trial date has yet to be scheduled.
Chester County Hospital receives no funding from the county, hospital officials said.
A hospital spokeswoman declined comment on the suit, noting that county and hospital officials have yet to take a formal position on the matter. Agee, a nutritionist and healthcare consultant, could not be reached for comment.