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OPINION: Rash Lawsuit Contributed to the Recent GC Hospital Decision

I stand by Mayor Suozzi’s recent statements about the hospital’s value & believe GC is a better place when there is a fully functional hospital here. However, with the value of the hospital understood by all, why don't we know about his lawsuit?

On July 23rd, I exposed to the Glen Cove community Mayor Suozzi’s non-transparent plans to sell a cherished, although underutilized jewel of Glen Cove. Hundreds of outraged residents spoke up and stopped the sale.

 

In the past few weeks, it has been announced that the Glen Cove Hospital will phase out inpatient beds in response to the changing healthcare industry. As any responsible public servant should do, Mayor Suozzi immediately showed concern for the City and surrounding communities, stating, “I’m not pleased,” and, “I want to make every effort to find a solution that is less painful and grow the system instead of shrinking it.”

 

I stand by Mayor Suozzi’s recent statements about the hospital’s value and believe Glen Cove is a better place when there is a fully functional hospital present. However, with the value of the hospital supposedly understood by all, why did Mayor Suozzi choose to unilaterally and recklessly sue North Shore University Hospital at Glen Cove in August of 2012? According to the formal legal proceeding filed on August 31, 2012, the Mayor suspected the hospital was discharging and releasing chlorodiflouromethane (commonly referred to as R-22 or HCFC-22), “thereby causing contamination to [Glen Cove’s] groundwater supply.” However, a response filed by the hospitals lawyers reads “this lawsuit was commenced in an attempt to recover costs to upgrade [Mayor Suozzi’s] treatment system servicing the Seaman Road Well. To do that, [Mayor Suozzi] sued the only deep pockets that it could think of – the manufacturers of R-22 and large institutions in the area that [Mayor Suozzi] believed use a geothermal air conditioning system.”

 

As a leader elected to protect the citizens of Glen Cove, did the Mayor truly believe suing such an indispensable community partner was the best course of action? The hospital has been an integral community and corporate partner in Glen Cove for over 50 years providing necessary services and economic life-support. Why did Mayor Suozzi choose not to approach North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems to work together in solving this problem? Did Mayor Suozzi believe an unfounded and reckless behind-the-scenes lawsuit would paint him as a fair government partner? Instead, why not approach the hospital as a partner with our Department of Public Works to try to limit the damage? As my publicly elected official, I expect Mayor Suozzi to protect and defend the City of Glen Cove through reasonable and effective measures, not his recent reckless and possibly damaging legal action.

 

As the aforementioned documents clearly display, Mayor Suozzi unilaterally sued Glen Cove Hospital after failing to conduct an adequate investigation into the potential contamination source. Is that how we are supposed to reach out to partners who we value and are now fighting to keep around? Why has Mayor Suozzi failed to mention this lawsuit to the community before, during, or after his displays of service? While I stand by Mayor Suozzi in his fight to keep Glen Cove Hospital as is, every citizen of Glen Cove deserves to know the details about this lawsuit and its impact on the decision to completely remove inpatient beds from Glen Cove Hospital. Although I do not claim that this lawsuit is the reason for the recent decision to remove inpatient beds, I do fail to understand how a lawsuit could have helped this grave situation. 


Mayor Suozzi, I want to continue to fight for Glen Cove Hospital but it is difficult to do so without a full understanding of how your rash decisions have contributed to the uphill battle Glen Cove and the surrounding communities now face. The City of Glen Cove and surrounding communities deserve to know what is truly going on.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

george meade August 15, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Very well said Adam, thank you. This is an another perfect example of Ralph's incompetence. This weak decision process is also why GC no longer owns the sewer (watch for the sewer use tax in 8 or so years). How dare he make these type of decisions on his own. Where was the city attorney Taranto's opinion on this, what are we paying him for too. If one reads the Hospital rebuttal carefully you will realize that the well Ralph is saying is pollutated with R22 is Seaman Road, well that is not the water well that had very low levels of R22 - he did not even sue for the correct water well. Nor did PDW re-check the levels of R22 before filing this frivolous lawsuit. What an embarrasment.
Mung Bean August 15, 2013 at 04:59 PM
So the lawsuit was unfounded? The hospital isn't leaking pollutants into the drinking water? Has the case been resolved?
Tom Terrific August 16, 2013 at 07:14 AM
There definitely needs to be some explanation with this one. Did the Council vote on this? Was there a legal opinion rendered on the merits of the lawsuit? What is the current status of the case? Has there been a finding? A disposition?
Adam Ramadan August 16, 2013 at 09:27 AM
Everyone, unfortunately I do not have any of these answers and it seems like the only person who does is the Mayor. The hospital needs to remain open, but all of these questions abound. If this lawsuit played a factor in the hospitals decision to close then we are completely being left in the dark and that isn't fair...
Glenn Howard August 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM
if you go to the Supreme court of Nassau County on this you will find that the suit is a non-monetary suit. That is, the city is NOT asking the court for money or any monetary consideration. Why this is not in the article and in the above I do not understand except for politics as usual. Also the Mayor cannot sue, only the City as an entity can sue. Plaintiff(s): CITY OF GLEN COVE Defendant(s): NORTH SHORE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL AT GLEN COVE, MONTCLAIR CARE CENTER, INC., FOREST MANOR CARE CENTER, INC., E.I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS & CO., SUPREME COURT NASSAU COUNTY Index Number: 601732/2012 Case Status: ACTIVE This E-FILED OTHER case is a civil action for NON-MONETARY RELIEF. The action is currently assigned to Judge JEROME C. MURPHY .
george meade August 18, 2013 at 08:56 AM
Glenn, really, who files a NON-MONETARY lawsuit? Keep reading the e-filed documents and you will find the amount of this lawsuit to be approx TEN MILLION DOLLARS. The Mayor DID file this frivolous lawsuit from the City of Glen Cove WITHOUT Council and resident approval. The politics as usual in Glen Cove is something out of "The Godfather", which is what the Defendant's attorney called Ralph. These politics as usual NEED TO CHANGE IN NOVEMBER.
Tom Terrific August 18, 2013 at 09:53 AM
Believe it or not, it is possible to file a non-monetary lawsuit. The lawsuit could be for a court-ordered injunction or for some type of specific performance. But, the reality usually is that if plaintiff prevails, it DOES cost the defendant quite a bit in many other ways to comply with the court order, not to mention the legal costs of defending against the suit. So, it does have a financial impact; and, in some cases, a significant one.
Kristina S. Heuser August 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Adam, I was out of town attending to a sick family matter so I apologize for the delay in this comment, but I would be remiss not to say a big THANK YOU for sharing this information with the public. You write so eloquently; but of course I would expect nothing less from a fellow Hoya ;). To my friend Glenn Howard, this is not a "non-monetary lawsuit" as you termed it. Rather, the alleged damages sought by the lawsuit have yet to be determined. In other words, the City could be seeking a gazillion dollars from the hospital, they just didn't put a specific dollar amount in their complaint. I am going to copy and paste the language directly from the complaint that shows what the city is seeking in damages in the following post so that everyone can read it and see for themselves. I hope that the hospital stays open and continues to provide all the services it presently provides for the sake of its employees and all of the residents who live in the area. The purpose of exposing this lawsuit is not to detract from that goal at all. Rather, it is to show that putting all our hope in the Mayor to work with the hospital to accomplish that goal is defeatist. Obviously, based on what we can read from the court record, there exists a very contentious relationship between the hospital and the current City administration at best. Why would they work with someone who is suing them? The hospital is of the opinion that the lawsuit is frivolous and that it was initiated by the Mayor unilaterally and without supporting evidence. No wonder they want to cut and run, and any actions by the Mayor now to try to "save Glen Cove Hospital" are just for show for the voting public because he must know that his actions against the hospital were at least a contributing factor to their decision, if not the direct cause. If he really wanted to do everything in his power to stop the closing of the hospital, unless there is evidence that the hospital really did pollute the water supply, he should offer to discontinue the lawsuit if the hospital remains open, or at least work out some sort of settlement along those lines.
Kristina S. Heuser August 19, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Here are the damages claimed in the Complaint (verbatim): i. For recompense of costs and expenses incurred by Plaintiff, including professional costs for the investigation of the contamination caused by Defendants and Defendants’ defective product, and costs incurred in response to the continued threat of contamination in Plaintiff’s water supply, including the costs of construction, operation and maintenance of a treatment system; and ii. For attorney’s fees incurred by Plaintiff in effectuating response to the contamination including actions taken in investigation of, response to, and protection of the public water supply and actions taken effectuating cleanup of the R-22 contamination impacting Supply Well No. 2S, including the costs of this action.
Pazzo August 28, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Nassau County Petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/help-ed-mangano-save-glen-cove-hospital Per Robocall from Mangano.

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