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Special to The News-Courier—
WICHITA FALLS—A ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has left a portion of the Knox County Hospital District’s $21 million lawsuit against Blue Cross/Blue Shield pending as both parties have been ordered to attempt an alternative dispute resolution.
The judge stayed the remaining portion of the lawsuit pending an arbitrator’s decision, meaning that the hospital can still pursue its legal claims against BCBS if the parties are unable to reach an agreement in arbitration.
The order issued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas read:
“Where are of the issues raised before the court are subject to arbitration, dismissal is permissible …Here not all of the Plaintiff’s (KCHD) claims are referred (to arbitration). But since this claim is dependent on the issues of the disputes that will be arbitrated, the Court exercises its discretion to stay this case pending the arbitrator’s decision.”
The court ruling came in response to a BCBS motion to have the entire matter sent to arbitration.
“The Board of Directors, employees and patients of Knox County Hospital could not be more pleased with Judge O’Connor’s decision to have critical parts of this lawsuit pending while both parties enter into arbitration,” said Kelly Dawson, attorney for KCHD. “We appreciate the Court’s willingness to have a full hearing on the factual allegations asserted in the lawsuit.”
Dawson also applauded the court for moving quickly on the case which the hospital filed in State District Court back in September. BCBS moved to have the case moved to federal court and then filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed.
“The judge has made it clear that he wants this matter resolved in a timely fashion, and we will move quickly to meet his order,” Dawson said. “We’re pleased to have the option of coming back to court if we are unable to resolve some of the serious financial hardships that have been imposed on the Knox County Hospital. We want the citizens of Knox County to be fully covered before this issued is resolved.”