Ex-chief of staff's lawsuit delays $361M Kentucky hospital sale

Louisville, Ky.-based Baptist Health's acquisition of Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown, Ky., will likely be delayed by months due to litigation, according to Louisville Business First

Baptist Health and Hardin Memorial received approval for the $361.4 million deal from the Hardin County (Ky.) Fiscal Court in May 2018. However, Larry Hall, MD, Hardin Memorial's former chief of staff, filed a civil suit claiming the sale was negotiated in secret, and that the court's approval should be declared void and set aside.

Hardin Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mark Easton presided over the case and upheld the process used in the deal in October 2018. Dr. Hall appealed the decision two weeks later.

On Sept. 20, the Kentucky Court of Appeals denied Dr. Hall's request that the transaction be enjoined. The three-judge panel also rejected Dr. Hall's claims that the deal was reached in secret in violation of Kentucky's open meetings laws.

Earlier this month, Dr. Hall filed a rehearing petition with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. He's asking the court to reconsider the case because he believes the court misconceived or overlooked a material fact in the lawsuit, according to Louisville Business First, which cited court documents.

"Dr. Hall's filing a petition for rehearing will delay the closing of Baptist Health's acquisition of Hardin Memorial Health and this is unfortunate for the residents of Hardin County and the hospital's physicians and employees," Janet Norton, vice president and chief legal and regulatory affairs officer for Baptist Health, said in a statement to Louisville Business First. "Baptist Health is prepared and ready to make much needed capital investments in the hospital as soon as we can close on the sale."

Though it is unclear how long the sale will be delayed, officials expect the petition to hold up the sale for "months, not days or weeks," a Baptist Health spokesperson told Louisville Business First.

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