Bingham Memorial Hospital announced Tuesday that its law firm, Holland & Hart, has filed suit to force the release of public records from Lee Hammett, Bingham County and other county agencies and county officials.
A spokesperson for the hospital says the documents relate to an investigation and related actions by Planning & Zoning Commission Chair, Lee Hammett and others on behalf of the Bingham County Commissioners earlier this year.
Hospital officials complain that while Bingham County did release a number of emails from County Commissioner Ladd Carter and others following an initial public records request, Hammett’s documents were not produced.
According to a news release from Coltrin and Associates for Bingham Memorial Hospital, as hospital officials understand the current situation, Bingham County and Hammett are refusing to produce the Hammett documents based on the county’s current official position that Hammett was technically never authorized in a meeting which complied with Idaho’s public meetings laws to act on behalf of the county. The Hospital believes that the county and Hammett are not properly withholding the information and seeks a judicial resolution to the impasse.
Dr. Clark Allen, member of the Board of Directors for Bingham Memorial Hospital, speaking on behalf of the Board said, “We were surprised and disappointed that the request for records kept by Mr. Lee Hammett is being denied by the county based on its current position that Mr. Hammett was acting solely as a private individual when he took the actions that we believe wrongly damaged the Hospital’s reputation and caused it to suffer significant economic damages. At the time the relevant events were occurring, Hammett and Commissioner Ladd Carter indicated that Hammett was acting on behalf of the county.
Moreover, the documents and emails that the Hospital has obtained to date reflect that Hammett was communicating, coordinating, and meeting with county officials. It is troubling that it was only after the Hospital’s public records request was made that the county began distancing itself from Hammett, claiming he was not acting under its authority.
Over the last several months, the Hospital has cooperated with all proper requests from officials for information, convened an independent evaluation of concerns Hammett claimed to be investigating to ensure an objective survey of hospital procedures and processes and reported the results of that review to the public. It is truly disappointing that Mr. Hammett, who, to the Hospital’s knowledge, has always contended that he was acting on behalf of the county, has not produced his documents in response to a proper public records request.
As a Board of Directors, we are disappointed that this course of action was necessary as we depend on our public officials to be transparent. It is our hope this suit will yield the information requested and we will be able to achieve some understanding of the elements of the investigation that caused so much needless harm to Bingham Memorial Hospital.”
The lawsuit was filed yesterday with the Bingham County Court.