A court case involving the entities seeking to operate Bayonne Medical Center (BMC) continues with both sides claiming victory.
Hudson County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jablonski rejected one count of a lawsuit filed by BMC Hospital LLC against Hudson Regional Hospital.
Jablonski struck down the count that claimed HRH had illegally purchased the real estate that BMC sits on without a Certificate of Need (CN) from the state Department of Health.
He allowed three counts to go forward: the claim by BMC Hospital LLC that HRH interfered in BMC Hospital LLC’s ongoing negotiations to buy BMC, that it bought the real estate to open BMC Hospital LLC up to tort claims, and that it engaged in unfair competition.
CarePoint Health is dissolving and has been liquidating its assets, including BMC, Hoboken University Medical Center, and Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
Avery Eisenreich, owner of nursing home operator Alaris Health, purchased the land of BMC and Hoboken University Medical Center in November of 2019.
CarePoint has been searching for an operator for the facilities ever since, eventually signing a formal sale agreement with BMC Hospital LLC to operate Bayonne Medical Center. BMC Hospital LLC’s leadership is composed of investors from the surgery-center chain Surgicore.
CarePoint has also signed a letter of intent with RWJBarnabas Health whereby that company would acquire operations at both Hoboken University Medical Center and Christ Hospital.
Meanwhile, Hudson Regional Hospital has closed on the purchase of the real estate of BMC for $76 million and is in contract with Eisenreich to acquire Hoboken University Medical Center for $144 million.
When the sale closes between Eisenreich and Hudson Regional Hospital, HRH intends to operate the hospitals, not BMC Hospital LLC. This has sparked a war between the two entities over who will operate the hospitals.
Both sides claim victory
Hudson Regional Hospital felt vindicated by the recent court rulings.
“We expected this decision and applaud the Judge for recognizing the absurdity of BMC, LLC’s applications,” said Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, CEO of Hudson Regional Hospital. “It is a great misfortune to Hudson County that any healthcare organization would attempt to use the courts to disrupt straightforward business dealings between private parties, but BMCH, LLC is shameless in their pursuit of public funding that will enrich its partners and drain resources out of the public health system and cost taxpayers tens of millions.”
BMC Hospital LLC has also claimed victory.
“The citizens of Bayonne deserve to have their voices heard and they are rightfully no longer willing to tolerate lies and wasteful litigation necessitated by HRH’s shifting positions and secret deals,” said Wayne Hatami, President of BMC Hospital LLC. “It is time for the Department of Health to confirm what the BMC team has requested, that their agreement with CarePoint to take over operations of Bayonne hospital be allowed to move forward.”
Battling over ownership
BMC Hospital LLC has filed a lawsuit against HRH in an attempt to stop its purchase of Bayonne Medical Center and for “obstructing an agreement between the current owners of Bayonne Medical Center and the BMC team to take over ownership.”
BMC Hospital LLC claims that its agreement with CarePoint, which was executed in June, gives it exclusive rights to negotiate a final plan to take over operations of Bayonne Medical Center without interference from other parties.
HRH has reiterated that the landowner has the right to determine the operator of the hospital.
Since HRH now owns BMC’s real estate, HRH has said it can determine the hospital operator and that HRH would operate the facility and not BMC Hospital LLC, contrary to CarePoint’s formal sale agreement.
More back and forth
HRH has purchased the Bayonne Medical Center land, but BMC Hospital LLC claims that HRH does not own the real property in Bayonne.
And while BMC Hospital LLC’s Hatami doubled down on his attacks against HRH “for lying to the people of Bayonne,” HRH’s Kifaieh remained optimistic the court will rule in favor of HRH.
“Eventually, the courts will sort out this matter and justice will prevail on any remaining claims that BMCH, LLC made that could not be determined today,” Kifaieh said. “In the meantime, we expect BMCH, LLC to continue their reckless attempts to slander and interrupt Hudson Regional Hospital’s plan to create a premier acute care network in Hudson County.”
‘Illegal eminent domain scheme’
Kifaieh continued: “We will not be deterred, and we expect that depositions of the BMCH, LLC principals and other evidence we have gathered will reveal their mission is to hoodwink the public into an illegal eminent domain scheme. We are going to prevent this by asserting our rights in protection of our and the public’s interests as we impose the conditions of our current lease of the Bayonne Medical Center property.”
HRH alleged that BMC Hospital LLC’s plan to acquire Bayonne Medical Center requires that the property be purchased through eminent domain and that the county will lease the land to BMC Hospital LLC at a reduced rate.
In May, the Hudson County Board of Commissioners voted to approve three resolutions invoking eminent domain on the three CarePoint Health hospitals.
The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) has notified the property owners and operators of the three hospitals that an inspection of each facility will be conducted by the authority’s real estate appraisal experts, according to HCIA spokesperson Caitlin Mota.
With the possibility of another lawsuit involving the hospitals, the crisis is far from over.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.