New judge now hearing SRHS retiree lawsuit cases - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New judge now hearing SRHS retiree lawsuit cases

Judge Breland Hilburn. (Photo source: WLOX) Judge Breland Hilburn. (Photo source: WLOX)
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

During a hearing that lasted one and a half hours, several motions were heard by the judge. The bottom line is Singing River Health System must turn over accounting documents regarding the failed pension plan within 10 days.

Plaintiff attorneys have doubts about what those records will reveal. Harvey Barton is one of them.

“I'm afraid that the documents that they've already given to the CPA and accounting firm have already been sanitized. They've already been cleaned by the lawyers representing the hospital,” Barton said.

Hospital attorneys, including Kelly Sessoms, disagreed.

“I think the documents that will be produced within the 10 days ordered by judge Hilburn will be consistent with the judge's ruling regarding the accounting part of the lawsuit,” Sessoms explained.

Just in case, attorneys for the retirees are filing another lawsuit, this one naming names including Jackson County elected officials and high ranking hospital executives. Earl Denham talked about the process.

“Everyone that we add will be someone who aided, assisted or covered up, in one way or another, the breach of fiduciary relationship and breach of contract between my clients and the hospital,” Denham said.

There was a point of some confusion during Wednesday's hearing. That's because in addition to the state court cases, there are federal cases as well.

So, what happens between those two? Matthew Mestayer is representing some retirees in federal court.

“With the class action also pending involving some of the same parties, but not all, so that's an issue that has to be dealt with about where the cases are going to be resolved and the interplay between the two courts, for sure,” Mestayer explained.

For the retirees, they are just glad something is happening. Cynthia Almond is the original plaintiff in the case.

“It appears that we are getting the things that we have asked for. We need discovery. We need factual documents that will help us build our case,” said Almond.

While that may be true, everyone agrees this case is a long way from being over.

The next scheduled hearing on the case is set for June 12, at 9 a.m. in chancery court.

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