Two legal disputes over the control of hospitals in Ohio and California were dealt delays in recent weeks.
A trial resulting from the attempt by 440-bed Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, to leave the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati was postponed until February 2007 from its previous Nov. 14 scheduled start because of a change in the presiding judge.
And a hearing related to a legal dispute between Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, and the University of Southern California over the ownership of 269-bed USC University Hospital, Los Angeles, was delayed to Nov. 20 from its previously scheduled Nov. 8 date.
The Christ Hospital delay came after two judges turned down the case because of a full docket or personal conflict. Judge Fred Nelson has accepted the case, stated he has no conflicts and was accepted by both parties.
In a related move, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro this month released a memorandum supporting Christ Hospitals withdrawal, though the memo has no legal bearing on the lawsuit. Petro weighed in for a second time on the merger dissolution battle. Petro wrote that Christ Hospital acted in good faith and did not exceed its authority when it terminated its joint operation agreement with the Health Alliance, a six-hospital, not-for-profit system.
Health Alliance spokeswoman Gail Myers said Petros memorandum is only an opinion and exerts no legal weight in the court case. Myers said the attorney generals brief is simply incorrect and restated Health Alliances contention that the hospitals had no legal ability to leave. In response to Petros memorandum, Christ Hospital Chairman Mike Keating called on the Health Alliance to drop its lawsuit and resolve the dispute.
In Los Angeles, a hearing in the lawsuit filed by the University of Southern California to force Tenet Healthcare to sell USC University Hospital back to the university was delayed. The hearing on Tenets motion to submit the dispute to arbitration was rescheduled for Nov. 20 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The universitys lawsuit contends that the federal investigations of the past four years and $900 million global settlement have tarnished Tenets reputation and sapped its financial strength. Those changes substantially altered Tenets ability to operate the hospital, the lawsuit contends, providing contractual grounds to force Tenet to sell the hospital back to the university. The lawsuit was filed in August.