Emory University Issues Response to Task Force Lawsuit

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(APN) ATLANTA — Emory University and Emory Health Care have issued a statement in response to a request from Atlanta Progressive News concerning the lawsuit filed by the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless regarding Emory’s alleged participation in the conspiracy to sabotage the shelter.

“Emory University and Emory Healthcare were named as defendants in a Dekalb County lawsuit filed by the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. The Task Force is already a plaintiff in two pending cases, one in federal court in Atlanta and the other in Fulton County Superior court,” Emory said in a statement.

“Similar to this new case against Emory, the Task Force has alleged, in part, that various defendants intentionally interfered with business and contractual relations at its homeless shelter at Peachtree and Pine streets in midtown Atlanta, and defamed the Task Force,” Emory said.

“Among the defendants named in the other pending cases are Central Atlanta Progress, The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, and the City of Atlanta.  In the federal lawsuit, the court recently ruled against the Task Force on all of its claims and granted summary judgment in favor of the City for approximately $147,000, for past due water and sewer services bills,” Emory said.

As previously reported by APN, much of the federal judge’s recent ruling was based on the legal theory of sovereign immunity, which the City of Atlanta was entited to, unless the Task Force’s attorneys in that case could prove that the City was acting in a proprietary manner, as opposed to as part of their official government role.

Like the other parties, Emory is not entitled to sovereign immunity, so for that reason, the federal court’s rationale that they used in their ruling does not necessarily apply to Emory.

“The claims made against Emory by the Task Force and its management have no merit and we will defend them vigorously,” Emory said.

“Emory University Hospital Midtown has long served a vital role in providing high-quality health care services to the people of Atlanta, including those without the ability to pay for their care.  In addition to serving those in need, Emory provides a substantial amount of uncompensated health care to the people of Atlanta and surrounding area through Emory physicians who practice at Grady Memorial Hospital through the Emory University School of Medicine,” Emory noted.

“The uncompensated services provided at Emory University Hospital Midtown and at Grady Memorial Hospital are only a part of the overall charitable contributions Emory makes each year to support the availability of health care and related services to people in need in the Atlanta community,” Emory said.

Previously, APN reported that the mediation had broken down between the Task Force and the other parties on the various lawsuits.

Lance Skelly, Director of Media Relations for Emory Hospitals and Wesley Woods Center, disputed that the talks had broken down, noting that Emory had spoken with the mediator yesterday.

However, Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Task Force, reiterated that the talks had broken down because, according to her, Emory was not offering anything and the Task Force stopped participating in the mediation because she saw no point.

“And the mediators were told that, we’re done with it.  We left it, and that was it,” Beaty said.

“The truth is, they kept telling the mediator we can make an offer, but there hasn’t been any offer of anything.  They were just trying to stall Mark [Murray, attorney] from filing the lawsuit,” Beaty said.

Beaty also disputed Emory’s claims that it provides free health care at Grady.

“First of all, Grady pays Emory.  That’s one of the issues in Grady’s budget,” Beaty said.

Beaty also talked about what she said was Emory Healthcare’s practice of keeping people believed to be from the shelter from purchasing food in Emory’s cafeteria, which she described as racial profiling.

“It was policy to keep people out of the food court who might commit a crime, and that means African American and homeless people,” Beaty said.

The case, 11A39185-5 is filed in the State Court of DeKalb County.  The complaint was filed on Tuesday, October 11, 2011.

“In March of 2011, the Task Force obtained information which revealed that, immediately following the Task Force’s occupancy of the Peachtree Pine facility in 1997, Emory and/or Emory Healthcare initiated efforts to interfere with the business operations of the Task Force and dislodge the Task Force from the Peachtree Pine building.  Prior to March of 2011, the Task Force was unaware of this conduct on the part of Emory and/or Emory Healthcare,” the lawsuit states.

(END/2011)

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