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Hospital authority lawsuit heats up
WOODBINE -- A Superior Court judge rejected a motion last week that would have forced the St. Marys Hospital Authority to spend an estimated $3.7 million on indigent health care.

Now, Jeremy Spencer, the St. Marys man who filed the motion to intervene, has filed another complaint asking the court to order the hospital authority to conduct an audit and to spend the proceeds from the 2006 sale of a nursing home on indigent health care.

In the complaint for declaratory judgment filed Tuesday, Spencer's lawyer, Mary Helen Moses, wrote the hospital authority "failed and refused" to obey the terms of a 2007 consent order requiring the proceeds from the sale of the St. Marys Convalescent Center be spent on indigent health care.

The complaint alleges the authority "unlawfully expended funds" to support senior citizen programs in St. Marys.

The complaint asks the court to order an audit and require proceeds under control of the authority be spent on indigent health care.

The complaint filed on behalf of Spencer claims the authority has "acted in bad faith, been stubbornly litigious and has caused (the) plaintiff unnecessary trouble and expense."

Authority lawyer Jim Stein said he is bewildered by the latest court filing, saying Moses's complaint on behalf of the intervenor doesn't make sense. A complaint on behalf of Spencer as the intervenor was denied last week by Judge Stephen Scarlett Sr.

"The law doesn't apply," Stein said. "I'm baffled because the court has already ruled on this. It's all weird."

The original St. Marys Hospital was sold in 1981, five years before the General Assembly passed a law stating how proceeds from the sale of a hospital be spent. Stein said existing state law doesn't apply to a hospital sold before 1986 and was never intended to apply to the sale of a nursing home.

"The statute clearly exempts the proceeds," Stein said. "We sold a nursing home, not a hospital."

Stein said he is also confused about the request in the complaint for the court to order an audit. Stein said Spencer and his brother, state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, attended an authority meeting more than three months ago where members voted unanimously to hire an auditor.

The authority even identified the name of the company hired to conduct the audit, Stein said.

The audit is complete and has been sent to state officials in Atlanta, he said.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 464-7655.



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