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Legal fees debated in Bauer-CHS case

December 18, 2018

A lawsuit involving Lutheran Health Network, its parent company and former CEO Brian Bauer was settled last month, but arguments in the case continue.

The case alleged Bauer defamed and disparaged Lutheran’s parent company, Franklin, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems by undermining the company’s business relationships, trying to drive away patients and doctors, and driving down Lutheran Health Network’s value.

The lawsuit was settled in November, with Bauer : who now works for Indiana University Health : barred from disclosing confidential, proprietary or nonpublic information he gathered during his time with Lutheran. Bauer also is prohibited from recruiting Lutheran employees until mid-2020.

Now, lawyers for some witnesses argue CHS should pay more than $200,000 in attorneys’ fees. Gathering emails and documents was burdensome work for those people, who were not parties to the lawsuit, and they should be compensated, attorney Mark GiaQuinta argued Monday in Allen Superior Court.

GiaQuinta clients Thomas Kelley, Chuck Surack and Sweetwater Sound, Kyle Witwer and Witwer Construction, Andrea Schenkel and William P. Schenkel IV, Aaron Garofola and Darrick Hoopingarner racked up nearly 40,000, and IU Health also filed paperwork seeking more than $74,000 in attorneys fees.

But questions remain.

For more than an hour Monday, GiaQuinta and CHS attorney James Buchholz sparred over whether Judge Nancy Boyer should order the fees to be paid.

Buchholz questioned whether the local court has jurisdiction to issue an order in the case, which was dismissed in a Tennessee courtroom after it was settled. Even if it does have jurisdiction, he argued, motions for attorneys fees should have been filed earlier.

GiaQuinta and attorneys Kimberly Schroder and Ted Nolting countered that Indiana trial rules allow for the payments.

“The court recognized that a dismissal doesn’t end all action in a case,” GiaQuinta said.

Boyer seemed skeptical of statements on both sides and said she is particularly interested in the question of jurisdiction. She asked lawyers to file documents by Jan. 3 to back up their claims.

Lutheran’s network also had claimed in court documents Bauer should be kept from working for competing health care providers in northeast Indiana. A Tennessee judge ruled in February Bauer can work for IU Health but prohibited him from working on health care-related projects with anyone with whom he has shared confidential business strategy from Lutheran Health Network.

Charges of trade and commercial disparagement, unfair and deceptive business practices and breach of duty of loyalty against Bauer were dismissed February in a Tennessee court.

mleblanc@jg.net

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