Assistant Manager: Losing Lawsuit Would ‘Hamper City’s Ability to Provide Services’

By Eric Heinz

A fence barricades Saddleback Memorial Medical Center on Tuesday, May 31. The hospital, the only one in San Clemente, closed on Monday, May 30. Photo: Eric Heinz
A fence barricades Saddleback Memorial Medical Center on Tuesday, May 31. The hospital, the only one in San Clemente, closed on Monday, May 30. Photo: Eric Heinz

As Saddleback Memorial Medical Center shuttered its doors in San Clemente on Monday, May 30, the lawsuit the health care provider filed against the city in April still lingers.

If the city of San Clemente loses the lawsuit, it would be on the hook for whatever the health care provider is awarded in court.

The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority would only cover real damages and not the “taking of property,” as is claimed in the lawsuit.

“The lawsuit is asking the city to stop doing something,” Paul Zeglovitch, a CJPIA liability program manager, said. “We only cover that when there is property damage like a landslide or something like that. Here, (the hospital) is claiming the city is taking their property by virtue of changing the zoning. We would only cover actual damage.”

That means the city would have to pay the $42.5 million MemorialCare is litigating, if they are awarded the full amount.

“It would be a big loss to the city,” Assistant City Manager Erik Sund said. “We would have to review that with the City Council at that time, and we would have to receive the Council’s blessing (if the city lost the lawsuit) because the money would have to come from the city’s reserves. It would hamper the city’s ability to provide services.”

The lawsuit claims the new hospital zoning the city adopted that encompasses the hospital campus was too restrictive in that it required the owner to provide emergency medical services.

“We did the zoning with the city attorney with us along in that process, and I think MemorialCare can say what they want about it being an unfair taking,” Sund said. “They can still operate a hospital there, urgent care and a surgical center. They just have to do it with a hospital on site, and we increased the density for the zoning. And we intensified the usage allowed there.”

Currently, the city has plans to permanently increase its ambulance services by one full-time ambulance. This would, according to the 2017 proposed budget summary, benefit residents instead of part-time seasonal service.

“One of the things we’ve been working with OCFA is increasing advanced life support equipment and basic life support,” Sund said. “OCFA is going to be pushing out some gear to provide better coverage when ALS and BLS is dispatched. Basically there’s going to be specific equipment that will be on the ambulance that would be on the fire truck.”

Injunction Dismissed

Dr. Gus Gialamas, a private practitioner in San Clemente, filed an injunction against the California Department of Public Health last week, claiming the state agency hadn’t done enough to inspect the effects of the hospital’s closure.

On Friday, May 27, a judge in Orange County Superior Court, dismissed the injunction, Gialamas said.

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comments (6)

  • The lawsuit is a sham. The zoning changes occurred at the beginning of this year which is long after MemorialCare had announced they were closing it down. It is just political posturing.

    MemorialCare would love to get a bailout from the residents after they tanked the hospital.

    Thanks for nothing MemorialCare. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out MemorialCare.

  • do you need a hospital that’s mad at you ,,,,,,,,,,,,giving service to you ??????????

    42000000 divided by 10 dollars a sq foot for sidewalks four foot wide is a 1050000 long sidewalk or better than three times to san diego

    now our city does not build sidewalks but will risk our future in a court pissing match not unlike the beach parking fund /// why /// ) -:

    • @George,

      The lawsuit is a publicity stunt. That is backfiring badly for them. It is intended to mask the executives at MemorialCare from blowback from stockholders.

      Noticed you keep bringing up sidewalks in different places with your SC Times comments. Your comments are cryptic and lack context for us to understand your point about sidewalks. Can you fill us in on what you mean relating to sidewalks? and which sidewalks?

  • It appeared to me that the city did the rezoning as either a retaliatory action or is trying to force the hospital to provide services the city prefers. Either situation I find troubling and I think the council has put the residents in a bad position.

    It is definitely time to take a hard look at the district voting plan: http://reformsanclemente.com/

    • @Tom, your comments are not accurate. It seems they are deliberately tailored to serve your political narrative relating to districting.

      Districting is a sham. It is a false narrative being driven by special interests that seek to divide our city to facilitate their goal of further exploiting San Clemente for their own gains.

      The zoning is part of the ongoing effort to preserve basic emergency room services that residents wanted to preserve.

  • after how many years the hospital has been at that local it makes perfect sense to zone it properly ,,, their timing though is hard to explain

    after almost a century our city still lacks basic health and safety needs like continuous sidewalks or safe walks to school or the beach ,,,,, but we spend moneys on satellite parking lots fancy trash can enclosures and fancy walk ways in front of selected merchants ,,,,, all this while other merchants are trapped behind parking meters or persecuted because of the vehicle they drive or what is carried upon it

    id like to note how my north beach neighborhood has become ellie’s table and the casinos parking lot instead of using the existing parking lot.because there is a charge for its use and not even do the owners or their employees have a pass much less their patrons. when or if the pool house is finished there will be more pressure on our neighborhood , now throw in the miramar .all without continuous sidewalks leading to school the beach or ellie’s table

    residents first business will follow , business first and residents will be unserved like the lose of 11 million dollar beach parking fund and the promised equity in our community and neighborhoods that it promised

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