Trinity Medical Center Wins Appeal Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Unanimously Rejects Judge Pool's Ruling

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals issued a unanimous (5-0) ruling today granting Trinity Medical Center its petition for a Writ of Mandamus. In doing so, the Court handed Trinity Medical Center a major victory in its ongoing fight to complete a state-of-the-art hospital along Highway 280.  Trinity Medical Center received a Certificate of Need in 2010 for this long-awaited, strongly desired project, but its opponents, Brookwood Medical Center and St. Vincent's Hospital, have obstructed and delayed Trinity's efforts to move forward at every juncture.

At issue in this ruling is whether Judge Jimmy Pool, a District Court Judge who was sitting as a special Circuit Court Judge in Brookwood and St. Vincent's latest appeal of Trinity's CON, acted improperly when he decided that the case should be turned back over to an Administrative Law Judge and the CON Review Board for further consideration.  In the opinion issued today, the Court of Civil Appeals said that:

"…the circuit court lacked such authority and we issue a writ of mandamus directing the circuit court to vacate its remand order."

A writ of mandamus is considered an extraordinary judicial remedy in which a higher court determines that a lower court has erred and commands the lower court to correct a particular action.

When Judge Pool attempted to send the case back to an Administrative Law Judge, he based his decision, in large part, on sixteen documents that Brookwood and St. Vincent's claimed had not been available prior to the CON Review Board's initial, unanimous decision to grant the Certificate of Need.  However, those documents were produced by Trinity Medical Center, in advance of the CON Review Board's re-hearing and the CON Review Board found them irrelevant to its decision.

Today, the Court ruling also finds those documents were not grounds for remand:

"Having concluded that the 16 documents were properly before the CONRB upon the applications for reconsideration, we conclude that those documents are not 'additional evidence'." 

Today's ruling sends the case back to Judge Pool, where he is expected to take up Trinity's motion to dismiss three claims by Brookwood, and then to move forward with a decision on the underlying appeal of the CON by Brookwood and St. Vincent's. The Court of Civil Appeals addressed the urgency of the matter by saying:

"We anticipate that the circuit court will promptly consider Trinity's motion concerning those claims following the issuance of this opinion."

Trinity Medical Center appreciates the Court of Civil Appeal's careful consideration of our case and their sensitivity to the urgency of this matter. We are hopeful Judge Pool will now take up our case with the same priority to help reach resolution of this pressing community issue that has been postponed long enough.

It is also our sincere hope that our competitors will once and for all end their self-serving attempts to further delay this process.  The project has already spent more than three years in the Certificate of Need process. 

December 1, 2008
Trinity Medical Center files its Certificate of Need application to relocate to Highway 280

January 20, 2009
Brookwood Medical Center files opposition to Trinity's CON application and requests contested case hearing in front of an Administrative law Judge

January 29, 2009
St. Vincent's Hospital files opposition to Trinity's CON application and requests contested case hearing in front of an Administrative law Judge

September 28, 2009 to November 4, 2009
Administrative Law Judge James Hampton presides over the longest ALJ hearing on a healthcare matter in Alabama history

August 24, 2010
Administrative Law Judge James Hampton issues an order recommending approval of Trinity's CON application

September 15, 2010
Alabama Certificate of Need Review Board conducts hearing and unanimously grants Trinity Medical Center its CON for completion of the hospital on Highway 280

November 4, 2010
Alabama Certificate of Need Review Board issues an order denying requests by Brookwood Medical Center and St. Vincent's Hospital for reconsideration and issues Trinity's CON

December 16, 2010
Brookwood Medical Center and St. Vincent's Hospital file petitions for judicial review in Circuit Court of Montgomery County

March 16, 2011
Judge Jimmy Pool, a district court judge sitting as a circuit court judge, issues an order remanding the case back to SHPDA

April 5, 2011
Trinity Medical Center files petition for Writ of Mandamus and Appeal with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

October 6, 2011
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals hears oral arguments on Trinity's petition for Writ of Mandamus

December 9, 2011
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals grants Trinity's requested relief and issues Writ of Mandamus ordering Judge Pool to vacate his order remanding the case back to SHPDA

Trinity Medical Center stands committed, ready, and eager to proceed with the Highway 280 hospital, which would boost the local economy by injecting hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs and creating thousands of jobs.  Most importantly, it would increase access to quality healthcare services for local residents.  We sincerely hope that we will soon get the chance to move forward with this vitally important project.

Trinity Medical Center is a tertiary care hospital serving residents of Birmingham and surrounding communities.  The hospital offers programs and services in all medical and surgical areas.  This includes oncology, cardiology, robotic surgery, orthopedics, neurology, women's health, mental health, digestive diseases, geriatrics, physical medicine and rehab, sports medicine, cardiac and pulmonary rehab, and emergency care.  The hospital's medical staff includes more than 600 physicians representing 30 specialties and subspecialties. 

Contact: Leisha Harris

SOURCE Trinity Medical Center

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