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Court clears HMA to intervene in case

CANTON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has allowed Health Management Associates (HMA) to intervene in a lawsuit in a Madison County Chancery Court suit between St. Dominic Health Systems and the owner of an outpatient surgery center in Canton it wants to buy.

The decision, issued this past week, doesn’t deal with the ongoing argument between HMA and St. Dominic over the possibility of a second hospital in the Madison County.

HMA attorney Tim Kirkland tells The Clarion-Ledger, that HMA wants to be involved in the trial the breach of contract suit St. Dominic filed in 2008 against Madison Ambulatory Surgery Center.

In 2008, St. Dominic agreed to buy the ambulatory surgery center for $800,000. Although the center was no longer in operation, St. Dominic would obtain the certificate of need for running an outpatient surgery center.

“The value to us was the CON,” said Ed Brunini, the attorney for St. Dominic. “We would make it work in another location (in Madison County).”

The owner of the center put the operation back on the market after the sale was not completed within 30 days.

Then, HMA agreed to buy it. When St. Dominic sued the owner to get the property, HMA asked to be a party. A chancery judge in 2009 said HMA couldn’t be involved.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to chancery court.

“This puts us back in court,” Brunini said. “Our contract (to buy the center) is in place.”

St. Dominic’s position is that “our deal (to purchase the property) did not fall through,” he said.

“We did everything we were supposed to do,” Brunini said.

Kirkland said HMA’s position is that St. Dominic’s suit prevents the owners of the center from selling it to HMA, which operates Madison River Oaks in Canton.

“This case is unrelated to the hospital issue,” Brunini said.

Both hospitals are awaiting a decision from a Mississippi Department of Health on St. Dominic’s request to build a hospital just north of Madison. HMA has opposed St. Dominic’s plans.

Kirkland and Brunini any decision from the Department of Health will end up before the Supreme Court.

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