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CAMARILLO : Ruling Expected in Hospital Merger Suit

A Ventura County Superior Court judge is expected today to dismiss the last legal claims against Camarillo’s Pleasant Valley Hospital over its merger with St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.

Judge Frederick A. Jones is expected to confirm a tentative ruling issued Tuesday on the Camarillo Health Care District’s suit against Pleasant Valley Hospital and its directors.

The tentative ruling upholds the hospital’s argument that the taxpayer-funded health care district does not have legal standing to pursue its claims against hospital officials over the Feb. 18 consolidation with St. John’s.

The district, for example, had sued the individual directors of Pleasant Valley Hospital on the ground that they breached their fiduciary duties by agreeing to the merger. But hospital officials argued that only corporation shareholders can bring such a lawsuit against a board of directors, an attorney for Pleasant Valley Hospital said.

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The district built the hospital, partly with public funds, in 1974 and owned the institution until spinning it off as a nonprofit corporation in 1983.

Jones is expected to give the health care district 20 days to amend its lawsuit. But Pleasant Valley Hospital attorney Susan Hoffman said that if Jones confirms his tentative ruling, the health care district will have to find an entirely new basis for a lawsuit.

District board member Jim Prosser denied that the agency’s fight against the merger is over if Jones rules as expected. He said the district board would amend its lawsuit and would also consider appealing Jones’ decision.


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