By WECT Staff | September 23, 2020 at 2:12 PM EDT – Updated September 23 at 7:03 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A Superior Court judge heard arguments Wednesday morning after a group filed a lawsuit seeking to delay the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center until the hospital and New Hanover County turn over documents related to the transaction.
According to the complaint, Save Our Hospital Inc. is asking the court to compel the county and NHRMC for documents that it has requested since the beginning of Nov. 2019. The documents, the complaint states, are a matter of public record.
The complaint alleges NHRMC and New Hanover County has “refused to voluntarily produce the public records that have been requested by the plaintiff on numerous occasions.”
“[NHRMC] has obstructed, through its attorneys, compliance with lawful requests for public records from the hospital on the basis that the records requested are voluminous, burdensome and will take ‘months’ to gather and provide,” the complaint states.
The complaint also alleges the New Hanover County has failed to provide any public records, stating that the county, through its attorney, “asked for unnecessary clarification” on the requested documents.
During Wednesday’s virtual court hearing, an attorney representing the hospital and the county argued that all the records that could be filled under North Carolina’s public records law were filled, and requests that were made recently were pending.
“We have never denied them any records, we’ve asked for some clarification, but we’ve never denied them any records,” said the attorney who also characterized the lawsuit as an “affront.”
Alex Hall, the attorney representing Save Our Hospital, cited NHRMC’s Strategic Plan as one of the main records that have not been provide that is “readily available.”
“What is the harm of this hospital holding up days instead of making a decision on Sept. 28,” Hall asked.
Judge Phyllis Gorham said she will take the matter into consideration and will let both parties know her decision as soon as possible.
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