Stillwater News Press

Local News

June 5, 2014

Judge to rule on SMC salaries in November

STILLWATER, Okla. — District Court Judge Phillip Corley will determine if the Open Records Act applies to Stillwater Medical Center salaries in a November non-jury trial.

Corley ruled Thursday the lawsuit should be decided in a non-jury trial, which he scheduled for Nov. 3-4.

 Attorneys for the hospital sought a jury trial.

The lawsuit has dragged out in the district court system for approximately four years. It was filed by former Stillwater city councilor and businessman Hank Moore in 2010.

Moore made an Open Records Act request for a number of documents. One of those involved salary information for the highest paid employees at the hospital.

Stillwater Medical Center is a not-for-profit, public trust hospital. The Stillwater Medical Center Authority Board of Trustees governs the hospital and operates the public property. The medical center operates on hospital-generated revenue. The hospital doesn’t use tax dollars or other public funds to pay employees, hospital attorneys said in a May 2012 court proceeding.

Hospital attorneys asked in May that the suit be resolved by a jury trial. Tuesday, attorney Mark Folger said the facts should be determined by a jury, saying the suit is a matter of intepreting statutes. A jury, he said, should decide if disclosure of hospital salaries is an invasion of privacy.

In May 2012, the hospital’s attorneys cited a 2009 attorney general’s opinion that public employee birth dates were not public record. The hospital board used the attorney general’s opinion as a basis for its July 2010 decision to keep the salaries confidential.

Moore’s attorneys countered the jury-trial request by indicating the salaries of the hospital’s top five officers is the only remaining issue.

Court documents indicate Moore is not seeking monetary damages, but would like the hospital to pay his attorney’s fees if Moore wins the lawsuit.

 

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