Suit against city and hospital over board members' termination in court

Alejandro de los Rios Dec. 10, 2010, 5:34am


A lawsuit against the city of New Orleans by former members of the Board of Commissioners of the Hospital Service District who were fired is in court today in Orleans Parish Civil District Court seeking an agreed upon scheduling order.

Claiming Mayor Mitch Landrieu violated the Louisiana constitution when he relieved them of their positions, Alicia Plummer, Dr. Janet Barnes, Theresa Baudy, Alice Craft-Kerney, Sheri LeBranche-Jackson and Jacqueline Goldberg filed the petition in August. The suit names the city, Landrieu, the Eight Orleans Parish Hospital District and the Board of Commissioners as defendants.

The plaintiffs are arguing that Landrieu unconstitutionally applied a new state law retroactively when he terminated the board members' positions. Louisiana R.S. Section 46:1094 became law on Aug. 15 and gave Landrieu direct control over who was on the Hospital District Board without having to seek approval from City Council.

Landrieu replaced the plaintiffs on the board in July.

"The Mayor's actions ignore the date of effectivity [sic] of the amended legislation, thereby violating Article III, Section 19 of the Louisiana Constitution," the suit states.

The suit claims that $40 million in federal funds are at stake because the Board of Commissioners was charged with the purchase and rehabilitation of the Pendelton Memorial Methodist Hospital campus in New Orleans East. The hospital has been closed since it flooded during hurricane Katrina and the city bought the site for $16.25 million in the summer.

The city filed 11 exceptions against the suit, but Orleans Parish Judge Sidney Cates IV denied them all and ruled that the case could continue to trial.

City attorneys Nannette Brown, Nolan Lambert, Franz Zibilich and Darryl Phillips are representing New Orleans.

Orleans Parish Case 2010-08235

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