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Bingham fires back with notice of tort claim

June 12, 2012

Morning News — Leslie Mielke Bingham Memorial Hospital Board of Directors who were present at the hospital's press conference on Monday are (from left) Dr. Clark Allen, Chief of Staff, Alice Cannon, Lee Kniffen (board chairman) and Gordon Arave.

BLACKFOOT — Bingham Memorial Hospital announced Monday the filing of a Notice of Tort claim against County Commissioner Ladd Carter and Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commissioner Chairman Lee Hammett.
A tort is anything that is not a contract. In general terms, a tort is a civil wrong, involving a breach of duty or a negligent act by one person which results in injury or loss to another, and gives the injured party the right to bring a legal action for damages. Personal injury claims are tort claims.
Dr. Clark Allen who is Chief of Staff at the hospital and a member of the Board of Directors, issued the following statement:
"The Bingham Memorial Hospital Board of Directors has been in the midst of a firestorm of negative media attention for the past several weeks.
"After looking into claims, the Board of Directors was made aware of and is concerned about documentation that appears to show that there is a group of people with a stated, documented objective to have six members of the administrative team removed.
Allen continued, "The Board is very concerned that no allegations have been brought directly to us; no one has used the ethics hotline or spoken with our human resources department. No one has directly contacted management or the board of directors. Rather, these allegations appear to come from a targeted effort with cooperation from some media.
"Further, it appears some individuals making allegations have been pressured into participation."
While trying to contact board members, all inquiries have been directed to Paul Kotter, Director, Public Relations & Marketing at Bingham Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Allen identified the six members of the hospital administration who have supposedly been targeted as Louis Kraml, Dan Cochran, Jake Erickson, Jeff Daniels, Justin Dalling and Craig Oswald.
The tort states, "When Hammett and Carter were seeking to move public opinion against the Hospital by demanding an audit, they knew, or should have known that the Hospital was already audited on a regular basis by a large, independent accounting firm.
"By demanding an audit to which the Hospital could not agree, Hammett and Carter sought, through coordination with two reporters at KIFI/Channel 8, Karole Honas and Marissa Bodnar, to build public opinion against the Hospital, creating a misleading perception that the Hospital had something to hide in its financial records."
At the conclusion of the press conference, Kotter explained the Board members would take no questions. The board members were dismissed and quietly left the room.
As they were exiting the room, Honas tried to ask board members a question.
They did not respond.
"See, that in a nutshell is what we've been dealing with," Honas said to the audience. "We are always referred to [the hospital's] attorney."
The hospital attorney is Erik Stidham from Holland and Hart in Boise expalined the hospital is owned by BMH, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 critical access hospital. The hospital has no shareholders. It is run by the Board of Directors.
"The hospital is concerned about the relationship with doctors and the possible loss of patient relationships," Stidham said.
In response, Bingham County Commissioner Ladd Carter wrote, "I am aware of the tort claim that has been filed. I deny the allegations made in the tort claim that there was wrong-doing on my part or on the part of anyone else involved.
"The communications I had with other people were intended to culminate in presenting issues to the BMH board of directors," Carter said. "There has been a willingness expressed by the county commissioners to engage in a dialogue with the hospital's board about issues that have been brought to our attention.
"Obviously, this is not a very good sign as to how those discussions are likely to go," Carter said. "I hope I am wrong. Only time will tell."
Blackfoot Police Chief David Moore said, "We are still moving forward with an investigation [into Bingham memorial Hospital] that we've been told to pursue by [Bingham Prosecuting Attorney] Scott Andrew."
Andrew said, "There's no time frame. We [the police department and the prosecutor's office] are assessing where we are and where to go from there.
"We continue to move forward," said Andrew.

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