Earl Denham, attorney for several retirees, put the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and Singing River Health System on notice for potential fraud related claims.
State law requires that anyone desiring to bring an action against a public hospital or county provide at least 90 days notice prior to filing suit. Denham’s notice is intended to meet that requirement.
The fraud claim is based on the fact that hospital executives were accepting raises while Singing River was in the middle of a cash crunch. The cash crunch was the excuse executives used to not make contributions to the pension plan. Denham maintains that the excessive raises executives received should have been contributed to the pension plan.
The JCBOS is named because they were personally aware of the lack of funding and conspired with SRHS administrators, board members, and attorneys to terminate the plan and rid the county of the pension debt.
SRHS has been vocal in its defense of CFO Lee Bond, stating that as a late comer to the pension matter, Bond should not be included in any conspiracy charges.
Denham answers that in the latest documents noting:
The trustees’ minutes of October 24, 2014, indicate that CFO Lee Bond had met with the [JCBOS] prior to the attempt to terminate the retirement plan, so that each and every supervisor was aware of the retirement plan shortage and participated in the secret plan to terminate and to conceal the termination until it was irrevocable.
The notice asserts that in the case of fraud, each of the conspirators would be personally liable.
Denham previously brought claims of fraud and conspiracy in the Almond litigation. He subsequently withdrew those claims after objections that he was alleging torts for which no notice had been provided to defendants. It is assumed he will continue in chancery court, but there will likely be a fight over jurisdiction.