Natchez Regional lawsuit against Quorum still pending

Published 12:22 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NATCHEZ — Court documents indicate Natchez Regional Medical Center’s $46 million civil lawsuit against its former management company continues to move through the laborious legal process.

More than 900,000 pages of documents have been introduced in the discovery phase of the case. If printed, that paperwork would create a stack nearly 300 feet high.

NRMC filed the lawsuit in December 2009 citing gross negligence and outright fraud against Quorum Health Resources, a Brentwood, Tenn., hospital management firm, and two former top hospital executives.

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The lawsuit seeks $46 million in damages for what the county-owned hospital calls “negligence, breach of fiduciary duties, fraud and other wrongful acts and omissions” committed during 2006 and 2007.

In the original complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, NRMC alleged the mismanagement and deception caused by Quorum ultimately led to Natchez Regional’s bankruptcy filing on Feb. 12, 2009.

Former NRMC CEO Jeffrey Wesselman and former CFO Michael Anderson are named as co-defendants in the case.

Quorum provided financial and operational management services to NRMC, including providing its employees to serve as CEO and CFO, from 1992 until the hospital board fired Quorum in 2008.

The lawsuit alleges Quorum and its employees, Wesselman and Anderson, falsely portrayed the hospital’s financial situation to its board of trustees by providing “misleading and inaccurate financial information.”

That led to the board’s belief that the hospital’s financial condition was “healthy and on a road of financial stability.”

NRMC is represented in the case by two attorney firms, one in Jackson, Maxey Wann PLLC, and another in Baltimore, Md., Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP.

Quorum is represented by the firm Christian & Small, LLP in Birmingham, Ala., and Natchez attorney Robert L. Johnson III, who joined the case in March.