What's Going on with the Turk v Ray Reynolds and Somervell County Hospital District Lawsuit? (Glen Rose Medical Center)


 
New Court Date 2/19/2019

What's Going on with the Turk v Ray Reynolds and Somervell County Hospital District Lawsuit? (Glen Rose Medical Center)
 


19 October 2018 at 10:21:55 AM
salon

What is this case about? from this link

Plaintiffs have repeatedly spoken out about urgent matters of public interest in regard to the operation of the public hospital facility known as Glen Rose Medical Center. Their outcries were made to numerous persons and entities, starting first with a substantial history of verbal presentations to management and otherwise internally seeking corrections to unsafe and dangerous practices at Glen Rose Medical Center, s well as seeking implementation of new and better practices, especially where instances of neglect or lack of training resulted in adverse patient outcomes, including what appeared to Plaintiffs and others to be premature deaths. When the history of speaking out internally to management did not results in any substantial improvements, Plaintiffs began to make written and verbal outcries to a number of addtional persons and entities, including but not limited to elected members of the Board of Trustees of the Somervell County Hospital District, the Glen Rose Medical Center Hospital Medical Staff Committee, the Texas Department of State Health Service and the media. When the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation investigated Glen Rose Medical Center as a result of the report of another healthcare professional, Shelley Turk also spoke to the Joint Commission's investigator at length.

....

The retaliation against Plaintiffs for speaking out about these and other issues escalated after Plaintiffs turned to external reporting. Plaintiff's work environment became openly hostile. Plaintiffs have been repeatedly told that they never should have advised Somervell County Hospital District board members or the Texas Department of State Health Services of their concerns. To give an example, in response to a verbal outcry about retalition, Plaintiff Shelley Turk was told by the Hospital Committee Chief of the Medical Staff that she and Dr Turk brought the retaliation "upon themselves"

When last I looked at the Turk case, there was a date set in September 2018. The Turks would finally get their day in court to talk about the issues brought up against Ray Reynolds and Somervell County Hospital District (Glen Rose Medical Center in Glen Rose, Texas). But no, that date was cancelled and there is now, as of 10/16/2018, "Jury Trial set for 2/19/2019 at 9:009 AM before Judge Alan D Albright. 

Why was the case date reset instead of being held in September? On 8/14/2018 Ray Reynolds and the Somervell County Hospital District put in a motion to bifurcate, that is, to have one trial for Ray Reynolds and one for Somervell County Hospital District. On 8/23/2018, the motion was denied.

After consideration of the arguments of the parties, the Court finds that bifurcation of the trial in this matter would be unnecessary and judicially inefficient. The issues defendants seek to try separatelyPlaintiffs' claims against Ray Reynolds in his individual capacity and Plaintiffs' claims against him in his official capacityare not so distinct and separate from the other issues in this case that separate trials would serve the interests ofjustice. The underlying facts of this case overlap closely with Reynolds' individual and official capacities, and holding separate trials is likely to be highly duplicative of Court resources, as well as those of the parties and their respective witnesses. Separate trials would also increase the likelihood of conflicting jury findings. The pleadings filed in this case indicate that counsel is capable of crafting proposed jury instructions that will adequately delineate the relevant issues for the jury. As such, the Motion is DENIED. 

I had to laugh when I read Ray Reynolds original motion to bifurcate. Here's what he was arguing. Quite a few arguments are actually ones that the Turks argue against, that will be decided WHEN the case actually goes to trial. 

Physicians are employed by a private corporation often called a 501(a)—pursuant to the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine, that is to ensure there is no interference (governmental, private, financial, etc.) in the care and treatment provided by provisions. Until 2014, Texas (like most states) prohibited hospitals and governmental entities from directly employing physicians.3 The 501(a) that employed Dr. Turk is Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc. Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc. is a non-party. Somervell District does not govern or manage Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc. Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc. has a board comprised of physicians who govern and administer the employment of physicians. Physicians within the 501(a) are tasked with the credentialing of doctors and review of care and treatment provided by providers with privileges at the hospital

Actually, whether Glen Rose Healthcare Inc, which Somervell County taxpayers pay for as part of the budget, is a party is one of contentions of the lawsuit. (See also budget video in which salaries for 501a are included in the Somervell County Hospital District budget). Ray Reynolds hid part of his salary for the 501a in one part of the budget vs some more in another part (Video). Ray Reynolds claims that the 501a not part of Somervell County Hospital District is not true.

Secondarily, according to Reed, the hospital attorney, the Somervell County Hospital District board is in charge of the 501a, now called 162b (Video) In the below exchange, Margaret Drake is an elected Somervell County District board member.

Margaret Drake: I went through here from top to bottom and I can't find anything that says that we as board members are to be involved directly in the workings of the 501a. Am I totally wrong in that?

Reed: That's probably true but that's in the 501a bylaws. The 501a has separate bylaws, YOu are referred in the 501a to the member of the 501a. The 501a has two things. It has a board of directors and then it has what's called a sole member. And you are the sole member of the 501a. As the sole member of the 501a you have certain powers as sole member. As the sole member of that, you as the board have power in that 501a and those bylaws set out what your power and responsiblity is over the 501a 

Somervell County Commissioners Court has, in the past, transferred money back and forth from taxpayer resources for *shortfall*, which is one thing Reynolds says the 501a even exists for.  (Ray Reynolds has also said he was not following the *letter of the law* http://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp?view=plink&id=15229in documenting and tracking the monies passing between the District and Glen Rose Healthcare Inc. Reminder that I also put in a complaint to the Somervell County Sheriff's Department in 2014 about this and also the taxpayer money being spent in Hood County's Hospital District in gated community Pecan Plantation. 

(The second reason may be that the physicians, albeit being employees of the district, get different insurance than the other grunts (Video). Let me put a fine point on it. When the 501a is part of the budget, when taxpayers pay for salaries, and *shortfall* in an account that operates like a slush fund, and the attorney says that the Somervell County Hospital District is a "member of the 501a", it is misleading to try to fool people into thinking that Glen Rose Healthcare Inc is some kind of completely separate and self-funding entity. 

Also, on the bifurcation motion, although obviously I am not an attorney, I question whether Ray Reynolds, a hired employee by the district, not an elected official, can somehow claim "qualified immunity and official immunity to the claims agianst him in his individual capacity". The point of all the excusus about the plaintiffs having to prove Reynolds personally did this or that is, after all, the point of the trial! 

What was the Turk response to this?  (bolding mine) 

1. Motion Violates Rule 12(c) Prohibition on “Delaying Trial” The timing of this motion strongly suggests that the Government Defendants’ objective in filing it was to additionally burden the Plaintiffs, distract from trial preparation and to specifically delay trial on the merits. Indeed, at FN 4 of the pending motion, the Defendants raise the prospect of “an immediate interlocutory appeal” in bold letters. An interlocutory appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals obviously cannot be accomplished by the reset trial date of November 5, 2018. Rule 12(c) provides that "after the pleadings are closed, but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). Plaintiffs respectfully suggest that waiting from the original answer date of October 23, 2015, until August 16, 2018, to file a motion for the purpose of “setting up” an interlocutory appeal, violates the plain text of Rule 12(c), as to when such a motion may not be filed. A 12(c) Motion may not be filed when the reason is to delay a trial. 

2. Motion Violates Scheduling Order From a Year Ago Pursuant to Local Rule CV-7(c), Rule 12(c) Motions are “dispositive motions” The deadline for dispositive motions was set forth in the Second Agreed Revised Scheduling Order (Document No. 76) as August 31, 2017, almost exactly one year ago. Pursuant to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court’s schedule, “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge’s consent.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). Diligence of the movant is the primary focus for modifying the schedule. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992). In this instance, Government Defendants did not even ask for leave to file the pending dispositive motion a year late, nor did they show any reason for the late filing or even mention the long ago expired dispositive motion deadline1 . (1 Defendants rely on one Texas appellate authority to support the proposition that a hospital district should be considered an “arm of the state” rather than a “person” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. That citation is May v. Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, 61 S.W2d 623 (Tex. App. Tyler 2001, no pet.). This is a 17-year-old citation that Defendants could have referenced at any time during the multi-year pendency of this lawsuit) Filing this dispositive motion so remarkably late was a gross violation of the Scheduling Order. There is no doubt that Government Defendants were aware of the “dispositive motions” deadline of August 31, 2017, as that is the very date they filed their comprehensive summary judgment motions (Document No. 87 and No. 88) attacking all claims of both Plaintiffs. Those motions were completely denied (Document No. 118). This Court need not tolerate obvious gamesmanship of this sort. See, Kogel v. Government Employees Insurance Company, 2017 WL 3149919 (E.D. Cal 2017) [Eastern District of California denied a late-filed filed Rule 12(c) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings specifically on timeliness grounds, and declined to reach the merits.] 

3. Multiple Decisions of This Court Hold That A Hospital District Is A “Person” Subject To Suit Under 42 U.S.C. §1983 As they must, Government Defendants acknowledge that they are asking this Court to ignore at least three prior decisions of the Western District on the question of whether a Hospital District is a “person” subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983. At page 5 of their Motion, Government Defendants cite as follows: “See e.g., Rodriguez v. Bexar County Hospital Dist., 2015 WL 7760209, at *37, Civ. No. SA-14-CA-861-OG (W.D. Tex. Nov. 30, 2015); Aguiar v. Whiteley, 2016 WL 502199, Civ. No. SA-15-CV-14 DAE (HWB) (W.D. Tex. 2016).” These decisions from this Court are from 2015 and 2016, all post-dating May v. Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, 61 S.W2d 623 (Tex. App. Tyler 2001, no pet.), the seventeen year old case cited as sole authority by Government Defendants in support of their Eleventh Amendment immunity claim. The more recent federal precedent from this Court should be followed. 

and apparently Reynolds set forth that the Turks wanted monetary damages. Not true, says Turk's attorney.

8. Plaintiffs Do Not Seek Monetary Damages Under the Texas Constitution Defendants assert that Plaintiffs seek monetary damages under the Texas Constitution. No such relief is sought.

Back to the docket

Plaintiffs pre-trial statements of plaintiff's claims. 

Plaintiffs have brought this civil rights action against the SOMERVELL COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT and RAY REYNOLDS, Individually, and in his Official Capacity as Chief Executive Officer of Glen Rose Medical Center-Somervell County Hospital District (Glen Rose Medical Center). Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated their First Amendment constitutional right to Free Speech by retaliating against them by creating a hostile work environment, making false charges against their professional licenses, and terminating their employment afier they tried internal communications, then spoke out publicly, above the level of hospital management, regarding lack of patient safety, unsafe hospital operations, and unnecessary adverse patient outcomes at Glen Rose Medical Center, a public hospital.

Dr. Turk also alleges that Defendant Somervell County Hospital District violated his right to Due Process and Due Course of Law under the United States and Texas Constitutions by attempting to terminate him without giving him notice or an opportunity to be heard.

Dr. Turk and Nurse Turk also allege that Defendants violated their First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of their grievances by refusing to fully process their grievances, blocking them from reaching the SOMERVELL COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT Board of Trustees. 

Interesting piece is Document 149 filed 9/11/2018 filed by the Turks.

The actions of Ray Reynolds are inextricably intc1twined with the Hospital District's ongoing campaign to punish Dr. and Nurse Turk for their constitutionally protected speech regarding public health and safety issues at the Glen Rose Medical Center. Ray Reynolds was instrumental in Shelley Turk's termination from employment as evidenced by the testimony of Chip Harrison to the effect that Ray Reynolds asked his permission before firing Shelley Turk and that Chip Harrison's approval was premised entirely upon Ray Reynold's representations to Chip Hanison, who was at that time the President of the Hospital District Board. (Doc 95-2, Appendix to Plaintiff Shelley Turk's Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, at S. TURK APPX. 0064.) Shelley Turk disputes the characterization of her comments and disputes the fact that she had made any such comments about her co-worker in the months prior to her termination. (Doc 95-2, Appendix to Plaintiff Shelley Turk's Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, at S. TURK APPX. 0045.) Ray Reynolds was both the Hospital 's CEO and supervised, either directly or indirectly, the Hospital's personnel and spearheaded the effort to terminate Dr. Turk's employment. He was also the Chief Executive Officer of Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc. which, according to the District's own organization chart is a subsidiary of Defendant Somervell County Hospital District. 1 (1 Ray Reynolds is the Chief Executive Officer of Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc., a subsidiary of Glen Rose Medical Center. Although Defendants' Motion to Bifurcate presented as fact their assertion that Glen Rose Healthcare, Inc. is not governed by the Somervell District, the record facts are far from settled in this regard. The Defendants' argument that the Hospital District was not Dr. Turk's employer was extensively (and unsuccessfully) briefed by Defendants in their previous Partial Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 21] and their unsuccessful Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 87]. Having failed to convince the Court after multiple efforts, Defendants are now choosing to simply assume the truth of controverted facts and the validity of their previously unsuccessful legal arguments. )

On 9/18/2018 the trial to be held in September and pre-trial conference were cancelled and a new date of trial was set on October 16, 2018. That date, again is Feb 19 2019.

 

 


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