Jackson County

Judge stops litigation by retirees

Judge stops litigation by retirees

Specially appointed Chancery Judge Breland Hilburn issued an order late in the day Tuesday that has put a hold on litigation in state court by retirees who are suing the Singing River Health System.

Officers of the court said Hilburn issued an email giving his reason: To avoid duplicating efforts and costly litigation in state and federal courts.

More than 200 retirees who have chosen to remain separate from the federal court case that negotiated a settlement recently have sued SRHS in Chancery Court and their attorneys were not part of the mediation to settle the federal suit.

What Hilburn did Tuesday was order a temporary stay in state litigation and cancel a hearing set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in which attorneys for the 200 retirees, Earl Denham and Harvey Barton, planned to call for Hilburn to step down.

The attorneys had already filed motions outlining their reasons, among them were that Hilburn had not facilitated having the county hospital system turn over documents the retirees believed were pertinent to the case or allow the deposition of key hospital administrators.

Barton and Denham have also filed cases in Circuit Court claiming fraud and breech of contract by the hospital system.

-- Karen Nelson