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Claimed Fla. Sunshine Law Advice re Hospital Merger Talks Costs Law Firm $6M

Posted May 16, 2012 12:05 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A public taxing district board for a New Smyrna Beach, Fla., says the advice it got from an Orlando lawyer concerning compliance with the state's Sunshine Law has proven expensive.

After a state court judge nixed a planned 2010 merger with Adventist Health Systems over 21 closed-door meetings over a 16-month period, the Bert Fish Medical Center and the Southeast Volusia Hospital District sued attorney Jim Heekin and his law firm, Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor and Reed. The hospital board claims to have wasted $3.4 million in district administrative and legal fees and lost another $19.1 million in profits, the Daytona News-Journal reported at the time.

Now the law firm has agreed to settle the suit for $6 million, another News-Journal article reports.

Heekin and his legal counsel, Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, did not immediately respond Tuesday afternoon to messages from the newspaper.

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