LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  The University of Louisville and Norton Healthcare will take another shot at settling a bitter, two-year legal battle over Kosair Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville, where the two have been partners for nearly three decades.

U of L President James Ramsey told the Faculty Senate Wednesday that the judge overseeing the case has “ordered a second attempt at mediation” after earlier talks were unsuccessful.

Norton Healthcare spokesman Thomas Johnson confirmed that mediation is scheduled for November. He said it was actually the “special master” – a neutral expert appointed by the court – who asked the parties to renew their efforts to come to an agreement.  

U of L’s Board of Trustees will be updated on the case at its meeting this afternoon – likely behind closed doors.

Norton owns Kosair Children’s Hospital, which it built in 1986 on state-owned land at 231 E. Chestnut Street. U of L, a state entity, has long used Kosair as the pediatric teaching hospital for its School of Medicine.

It’s a “longstanding relationship” that has been “extremely beneficial to both parties,” as Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate wrote in a November 2014 ruling in the case.

But Norton and U of L have each accused the other of making new bedfellows to the detriment of their partnership.

U of L fears Norton wants to substitute the University of Kentucky’s medical school as its pediatric partner at Kosair Children’s. Norton, on the other hand, fears being displaced as U of L’s pediatric partner by KentuckyOne Health, its primary competitor and U of L’s business partner in operating University Hospital.

Meanwhile, Norton has been locked in a separate dispute with Kosair Charities, which accuses the hospital company of misusing Kosair Charities’ donations earmarked for Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Norton, in turn, has accused Kosair of failing to turn over more than $11.5 million in contractually required donations.

The Norton-U of L dispute erupted in August 2013 when Norton announced it would collaborate in pediatrics with the University of Kentucky and its Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington – a move that riled U of L medical school officials.

U of L then threatened in an Aug. 27, 2013 letter to evict Norton from Kosair Children’s Hospital.

In the letter, U of L said Norton had not kept up with financial commitments, had restricted certain U of L pediatric specialists from practicing at the hospital and “repudiated” its obligations to U of L by announcing plans to give “clinical, operational and financial control” of the hospital to a “different university.”

The letter prompted Norton to file the lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court seeking to keep U of L from following through on the threat to evict Norton from Kosair Children’s.

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