How much would you spend to keep your secrets from public view? $1 million? $2.5 million? $5 million?
As of this writing, Singing River has spent nearly $1 million dollars fighting their own employees and retirees in court. Most of that money has been spent in an attempt to delay proceedings and prevent the public from getting answers about what was going on behind closed doors and where the money went.
To this end, the SRHS legal team added hired guns from the firm Dentons, who specialize in discovery delay and denial tactics. Dentons is the world’s largest law firm, in terms of attorneys, though not billings. A comment from “Nunn Yabidnez” on Slabbed from back in March explains (emphasis added):
Kimball is a partner with Dentons Kansas City and Duvall is an associate there. Thus far, it seems, they haven’t actually done anything YET. Dentons is the real deal. If they aren’t currently the world’s largest law firm, they are in the top 3. Just making a guess, but it would not surprise me if an E&O carrier or other insurance company required this. If, however, SRHS hired them, it could be that something unknown to the public is REALLY, REALLY bad, much worse than what the public suspects.
Moreover, Duvall authored an article entitled “Effectively Resisting and Limiting Discovery” which outlines several techniques for denial in pension plan cases. Nunn was writing this in March and he is correct, Dentons hadn’t really done anything in court. In March, Singing River was using Dogan & Wilkinson to delay the proceedings with a recusal battle. This bought Dentons precious time to cover the voluminous document request made three months prior by Earl Denham and others.
Filings in federal court point to the fact that Dentons may have been brought in by SRHS from the very beginning. This January 16, 2015 letter to Celeste Oglesby (SRHS’ in-house attorney) from their insurance company states:
What is it that Singing River is trying to hide? As Nunn said “it could be something unknown to the public is REALLY, REALLY bad, much worse than the public suspects.”
In a lawsuit, discovery is the phase where both sides can request documents, information, and testimony from witnesses. Singing River fought hard for a court order to prevent the disclosure of thousands of pages of information to the public. Much of this information is ostensibly public record: meeting minutes, pension audits, and pension actuarial reports. The discovery process is still ongoing.
We are nearly ten months into the litigation and only two witnesses have been deposed. This is only the beginning of a long process. Singing River has spent most all of its defense money just on fighting the early stage discovery process.
It’s time for Singing River to tap out. They have spent $1 million of their insurer’s money fighting discovery and it’s only the first quarter. SRHS is now apparently spending it’s own money. See this July 22 quote from SRHS’ filing in federal court:
If anyone at Singing River is remotely interested in stopping the bleeding, they should call off the dogs, open the books, and publish the minutes in full. Pull back the kimono and let the public see, warts and all.
It’s evident that the legal advice SRHS is receiving actually doesn’t benefit the hospital or its financial position, nor does it benefit the public who own it. Rather, such rabidly vigorous defense can only inure to the benefit of certain yet unknown individuals who seemingly have plenty to hide.