Erlanger, Walker County Reach Settlement Of Lawsuits

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Erlanger Health Systems and Walker County, Ga., have reached settlement of pending lawsuits involving millions of dollars.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to approve the settlements.

A notice of the meeting says it is for: 

Consideration for a Forbearance Agreement between Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority d/b/a Erlanger Health Systems, Walker County Georgia, and Shannon Whitfield only in his capacity as the Sole Commissioner of Walker County Georgia, for the purpose of settling pending Federal lawsuits. 


The meeting will take place at the regular location, 101 S Duke St. in LaFayette.


Erlanger earlier won an $8.7 million judgment against the county based on a guarantee made by prior Commissioner Bebe Heiskell at a time Erlanger was operating Hutcheson Hospital in Fort Oglethorpe.

Hutcheson later went bankrupt and Walker County had to make good on a $10 million guarantee.

Erlanger sued Walker County over the debt. Another lawsuit involved Erlanger legal fees.

Erlanger has been pushing Walker County for immediate payment of the large debt and had asked Judge Harold Murphy of Rome, Ga., to enforce a provision that would levy enough taxes on Walker County citizens to pay off the debt.

That action was taken despite Commissioner Whitfield setting up a special tax designed to bring in $2.5 million per year toward the Erlanger debt. The first levy of that tax went into effect on the recently issued tax bills.

Walker County had asked that a jury decide the amount in owed Erlanger on legal bills.

Walker County has recently been cooperating with Erlanger rival, CHI Memorial, which announced it had acquired the former Hutcheson Hospital.

Walker County entered a deal with CHI Memorial for an employee wellness program. 


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