Hospital files lawsuit against Stark CountySt. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck is suing Stark County over a felon’s hospital bill.
St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck is suing Stark County over a felon’s hospital bill.
The Stark County Commission went into executive session during a meeting Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit.
After reconvening as a public meeting, Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning said he and commissioners discussed negotiating a settlement.
The lawsuit is for a $72,870 hospital bill for Jacquelin Mink’s stay at the facility, he said.
Since she was not arrested until after she was released from the hospital, Henning said the county is not responsible for that bill.
Mink was convicted of charges resulting from an armed robbery, high-speed chase and a lengthy standoff at a Gladstone farmstead in June 2009.
She and her husband, Ashton Mink, ran out of the garage they were hiding in firing guns.
Authorities shot Ashton Mink and Jacquelin Mink shot herself, authorities said. She was taken to St. Alexius to be treated for her injuries.
St. Alexius’s complaint is dated Nov. 29, said Mitchell Armstrong, an attorney representing the county on the matter.
The complaint is not available to the public, since a suit hasn’t been filed with the court.
“They just have to personally serve it on a member of the county and they did that and that began the process of the lawsuit,” Armstrong said. “The county’s position is that the county denies liability and we’re in the very early stages of litigation.”
Henning said the outcome will be made public.
“The only reason for all of this confidentiality is to deal with all the litigation or the threat of litigation without having public disclosure of the party’s position so that the other party can take advantage of it,” Henning said. “The final disposition of this will be made note of in the public record and the file at that time will be open to the public.”
Chairman Ken Zander and Commissioner Duane “Bucky” Wolf are tasked with keeping track of the suit.
Wolf said the plan is to come up with an amount that the hospital will agree to without going to trial. The county may wind up paying part of the bill even if they settle out of court, Wolf said.
“I don’t doubt that we will, but we’ll see,” Wolf said. “If we go to court maybe we’d win it, I don’t know.”
Zander said a settlement “would be in the best interest of everybody.”
However, he wouldn’t say how much the county would be willing to pay to settle out of court.
“That’s really something I wouldn’t want to discuss publicly,” Zander said. “We don’t really have a figure in mind. We’re just following advice of counsel.”
In October, Henning said the county could be held liable for medical bills from other convicts from years ago if St. Alexius won a lawsuit. He declined comment on whether a settlement would open the county up to the same issue.
Sean Smith, an attorney representing St. Alexius declined comment Tuesday, but said he has been in contact with the county.
In other matters:
- Commissioners voted to make Zander chairman, after Wolf had served in the position for four years. Russ Hoff was voted in as vice chairman, the position formerly held by Zander.
- Commissioners denied a request from Dominic Heck to rezone about 15 acres near Belfield from agriculture to industrial for an oilfield service.
- Commissioners approved lending the Belfield Ambulance Service up to $25,000.
- Commissioners awarded a $187,750 bid for a communications tower, contingent on an environmental impact study.
- Commissioners approved a new comprehensive plan for the county.