The attorney for plaintiffs in a civil complaint against Ballad Health this week asked a federal judge to reject recent Ballad Health motions to dismiss an amended complaint and to allow the case to proceed.
Ten East Tennessee residents filed the original action challenging why two men are allowed to simultaneously serve on the boards of Ballad Health and East Tennessee State University. The lawsuit also asks the court to declare that the state-issued Certificate of Public Advantage governing Ballad Health operations fails to satisfy federal antitrust immunity regulations.
The plaintiffs subsequently filed an amended complaint, in response to a Ballad motion, in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.
The latest filing asks the court to “overrule these defendants motion to dismiss the amended complaint, allow the proposed amended complaint to be filed in its entirety, that it order no further motions to dismiss be filed by any defendant.”
In its previous filing, defendants claimed the plaintiffs failed to articulate any harm they’ve suffered, failed to define the market the complaint refers to and that Ballad is “immune” to the lawsuit because the “COPA Act not only meets but exceeds” the standards because the state is actively involved in supervising the merged health system.
“The proposed amended complaint is valid, is not futile and — since plaintiffs did not believe their first complaint to be deficient in any manner (the court not yet having even ruled on that matter) — are amending their complaint so there is no doubt of adequate pleading,” according to the latest response.
The filing goes on to assert “plaintiffs have not engaged in bad faith conduct: in fact the defendants bad faith is as plain as the nose on their collective faces and it is absurd to the extreme that, if the court grants plaintiffs motion to amend that the defendants should have plaintiffs pay attorney’s fees.”
In addition, the plaintiffs filed a 19-page memorandum supporting its motion. In it, they claim the other eight Ballad board members must remain part of the case because the presence of “unlawful interlocking directors” occurred because they were selected by the entire board. They also claim East Tennessee State University is a corporation and that it is “ridiculous” to claim otherwise.