Norton sues over "highly charged and emotional" threats from U o - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Norton sues over "highly charged and emotional" threats from U of L

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Referring to what it calls "highly charged and emotional threats" from the University of Louisville, Norton Healthcare is suing the university, intending to establish that U of L does not have the legal right to evict Norton from Kosair Children's Hospital.

That's after U of L claimed Norton is violating an agreement by possibly teaming up with the University of Kentucky.  The announcement came last month that Kosair Children's Hospital and Kentucky Children's Hospital could merge.  The announcement said the partnership between Norton and UK would better meet the healthcare needs and interests of Kentucky's children.

But University of Louisville officials say it was not consulted before the announcement.  David Dunn, Executive VP for Health Affairs at U of L, said at the time that a 1981 agreement between Norton and the state stipulates that the land the hospital occupies must be used to the benefit of U of L.

Norton says U of L threatened to evict Norton from its own hospital, in which it has invested $500 million, unless Norton's talks with UK stopped.  Norton also says offers to negotiate with U of L have been declined.

For its part, Dunn released a statement Friday morning saying, "We have no intention of evicting Norton, and sincerely hope to continue working with them for many years to come. In order to do that we need to settle some serious issues." 

Dunn went on to say U of L requested a meeting with Norton Healthcare CEO Stephen A. Williams, but instead received a "nasty note" from a Chicago lawyer.

Williams, in a news release sent out on Friday, says, "Now is not the time for U of L to begin a monopoly on providing all physician services at Kosair Children's Hospital, to demand $24 million we don't owe, or if we don't agree, to try to have us evicted from the children's hospital we own...U of L has never had exclusivity at the hospital and exclusivity is not what's best for the Commonwealth's children."

Earlier in the dispute, Dunn said he believes Norton is motivated by money, but Norton representatives said that's not the case.  "To say it's motivated by profit ... we don't even know what the numbers are," said Michael Gough, Chief Financial Officer for Norton Healthcare last month.

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