Erlanger Health System, responding to an Open Records request by attorney Stuart James, said it paid $4,185,558.39 to an Atlanta firm in the wide-ranging Hutcheson Hospital litigation.
The summaries were provided by Erlanger’s outside counsel to the law firm of James, James and Joyner.
Attorney James said, "A candidate for the sole commission seat in this fall’s race, who is also an Erlanger employee, was critical regarding the $65,000 fees charged by our firm to Walker County. In addition, another candidate also voiced concerns over the fees charged by our firm.
Attorney James said, “I wonder how Mr.
Lamb and Mr. Whitfield feel knowing that Erlanger has paid in excess of $4.1 million to the law firm of Arnall, Golden and Gregory. It seems to me that not only has our firm been cost effective, we’ve also been efficient in our representation of Walker County.”
The billings are from 2014 to the present. The fees do not include billings from Miller & Martin or other firms that may have been involved with the Erlanger matter during the same time frame.
Attorney James said, “The millions of dollars at issue should be disconcerting to every taxpaying citizen of Hamilton County and North Georgia,” said James. “Last week, the Times Free Press reported that the amount spent on legal representation was $42,000. We pointed to the inconsistencies in the figures that we knew were wrong; however, this was the amount reported. While I’m disappointed in the inaccurate reporting, I’m more disappointed that taxpayers have been paying these bills without being given a thorough accounting for them.
“We proactively provided our fees in totality and they were published. Erlanger’s reporting of $42,000 only covered the ‘intergovernmental suit’. No wonder they didn’t want to provide a full accounting of their legal fees. They had over 4.1 million reasons not to fully disclose this misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
The litigation is ongoing as Walker County is still fighting in court a ruling that it pay over $8 million to Erlanger that it guaranteed during a period when Erlanger was operating the Fort Oglethorpe hospital that later filed bankruptcy.