Lawyer: Carolinas HealthCare breaks information law

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 11:37 a.m.

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A Charlotte attorney has sued Carolinas HealthCare System, saying it has violated the state public records law.

Charlotte attorney Gary Jackson has accused the operator of Carolinas Medical Center and more than 30 other hospitals of keeping secret the terms of a legal settlement, The Charlotte Observer ( reported.

Carolinas HealthCare won a confidential settlement in a complaint it filed against the former Wachovia Bank.

The settlement followed a 2008 lawsuit in which Carolinas HealthCare accused the bank of breaking a promise to put the hospital system’s money in low-risk investments.

One of the Wachovia investments plummeted from about $15 million to less than $2 million, the Carolinas HealthCare lawsuit said.

The hospital system’s board of directors went into closed session in 2011 to approve the settlement, Jackson’s lawsuit says, and the hospital system refused to provide a copy of the agreement.

Jackson says the system has no legal right to keep the settlement confidential. He says the public deserves more information than it is getting.

The hospital system says the state public records law does not require it to release such settlements.

Mark Merritt, a lawyer representing the hospital system, said defendants tend to be willing to pay more in settlements with confidentiality clauses.

Superior Court Judge Robert Sumner is considering the hospital’s request to dismiss Jackson’s lawsuit.

Merritt said the public records law is unclear.

“I describe it as a Swiss cheese,” Merritt said. “It’s got a lot of holes in it.”

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