University of Louisville, Norton Healthcare Ordered Into Mediation

A Kentucky judge has ordered the University of Louisville and Norton Healthcare into mediation to settle their months-long dispute over Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, according to a Courier-Journal report.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate told both parties he would appoint a mediator, but he did not provide a deadline for Norton and University of Louisville to settle the dispute, according to the report.

The dispute came to a head in August, after Norton announced plans to partner with the University of Kentucky HealthCare to jointly operate Kosair Children's Hospital and Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington. Norton built and operates Kosair, but a land lease with the state requires the hospital be operated partly for the benefit of U of L and the commonwealth, resulting in U of L's use of Kosair as a pediatric teaching hospital and research facility.  

The hospitals filed suit in September, with U of L claiming Norton was in breach of its lease and Norton filing a response suit, according to a WFPL report.

Earlier this month, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear sent a letter to executives at U of L and Norton, urging mediation to avoid "costly and protracted litigation" in a fight he said had unfolded to his "disappointment and dismay," according to the report.

Spokespersons from both organizations provided comments to the Courier-Journal.

"We look forward to the mediation process and continue to believe that these issues can be resolved without costly, unnecessary litigation if the two sides can sit at the table and negotiate in good faith," U of L spokesman Gary Mans said.

Thomas Johnson, Norton's chief communications officer, said: "We hope this mediation process will bring closure to what has been a lengthy and difficult effort for both parties."

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