Boyds won’t continue litigation

Published 7:51 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

Contributing Writer

The two Beaufort County residents who began legal action against county and health-system leaders have halted legal proceedings against the two groups, their lawyer said Wednesday.
“Without any action on our part, the injunction dies today,” said Mark D. Stewart, the lawyer representing James Russell Boyd and his wife, Phyllis Boyd, in the legal action, said in an interview with the Daily News. “As far as a legal standpoint is concerned, it’s over.”
Their decision clears the way for the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to vote on the recommendation by the Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners to accept an offer from Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, Stewart said.
Last week, the Boyds sought and received an injunction barring the county commissioners from voting on the transfer of the local health system to Community Health Systems of Franklin. Tenn.
The next day, CHS notified County Manager Paul Spruill and Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the BRHS board, that it was withdrawing its offer to lease the local health system. In its letter to Spruill and Sadler, CHS sited the legal action as contributing to its decision to withdraw.
The Boyds, Beaufort County farmers and life-long local residents, said several factors prompted them to pursue legal action against the two boards, they said in an interview with the Daily News, also on Wednesday.
The withdrawal of CHS from negotiations just prior to the second of two public hearings in October meant that some of those prepared to speak on the CHS proposal did not do so, they said.
The BRHS board’s vote to accept the CHS proposal despite overwhelming opposition from the medical community and many members of the public also contributed to their decision, they said.
“Nobody seemed to listen,” said James Boyd. “It was just wrong.”
Through a friend, the Boyds said, they contacted Stewart and asked him to begin the legal proceedings at their own expense.
“Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices to do what was right,” James Boyd said. “What we had to lose was the health care four our children and our grandchildren.
“We didn’t take it lightly,” he said. “We knew the risk of not doing something was far greater than doing something.”
The decision by CHS to withdraw its offer convinced the Boyds that they did not need to continue their legal proceedings, they said.
The Boyds said they were satisfied by Tuesday’s decision by the BRHS board to accept the offer from UHS.
Stewart said the Boyds had agreed to talk about the proceedings, in part, to let the public know that the legal action was ending.
Before the BRHS board vote Tuesday, UHS had increased its offer to $30 million from the $18 million it initially offered as part of a 30-year lease/purchase proposal. Under a revised proposal approved by the BRHS board, UHS would have the option of buying the local health system for $10 million at the end of the lease.
With that action, final approval of a UHS deal moves to the county commissioners, who will decide whether to accept, amend or reject the BRHS board’s recommendation.
A meeting of the county commissioners has tentatively been set for Wednesday, according to Spruill.