November 27, 2012 11:48 ET
Bingham Memorial Hospital Files Lawsuit
Hospital Board of Directors Issues Statement
BLACKFOOT, ID--(Marketwire - Nov 27, 2012) - Bingham Memorial Hospital today announced that the law firm, Holland & Hart, acting on its behalf, has filed suit to compel the release of public records from Mr. Lee Hammett, Bingham County, and other county agencies and county officials. The documents Bingham Memorial seeks relate to an investigation and related actions by Planning & Zoning Commission Chair, Lee Hammett and others on behalf of the Bingham County Commissioners earlier this year.
The Hospital first made a public records request several months ago. While Bingham County did release a number of emails from County Commissioner Ladd Carter and others in response to the public records request, Mr. Hammett's documents were not produced.
As the Hospital understands the current situation, Bingham County and Hammett are refusing to produce the Hammett documents based on the county's current official position that Hammett was technically never authorized in a meeting which complied with Idaho's public meetings laws to act on behalf of the county. The Hospital believes that the county and Hammett are not properly withholding the information and seeks a judicial resolution to the impasse.
Dr. Clark Allen, member of the Board of Directors for Bingham Memorial Hospital, speaking on behalf of Board said, "We were surprised and disappointed that the request for records kept by Mr. Lee Hammett is being denied by the county based on its current position that Mr. Hammett was acting solely as a private individual when he took the actions that we believe wrongly damaged the Hospital's reputation and caused it to suffer significant economic damages. At the time the relevant events were occurring, Hammett and Commissioner Ladd Carter indicated that Hammett was acting on behalf of the county.
Moreover, the documents and emails that the Hospital has obtained to date reflect that Hammett was communicating, coordinating, and meeting with county officials. It is troubling that it was only after the Hospital's public records request was made that the county began distancing itself from Hammett, claiming he was not acting under its authority.
Over the last several months, the Hospital has cooperated with all proper requests from officials for information, convened an independent evaluation of concerns Hammett claimed to be investigating to ensure an objective survey of hospital procedures and processes and reported the results of that review to the public. It is truly disappointing that Mr. Hammett, who, to the Hospital's knowledge, has always contended that he was acting on behalf of the county, has not produced his documents in response to a proper public records request.
As the Board of Directors, we are disappointed that this course of action was necessary as we depend on our public officials to be transparent. It is our hope this suit will yield the information requested and we will be able to achieve some understanding of the elements of the investigation that caused so much needless harm to Bingham Memorial Hospital."
The lawsuit was filed yesterday with the Bingham County Court.
About Bingham Memorial Hospital
Bingham Memorial Hospital is a 501(c)3 non-profit critical access hospital located in Blackfoot, Idaho. Bingham Memorial Hospital is committed to the pursuit of excellence in our endeavor to provide a continuum of quality, compassionate, healthcare services for residents and visitors to east Idaho, in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.