Cobble Hill

LICH bidder BHP back in court vs. SUNY on Thursday

Courthouse rally expected

May 7, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BHP's Merrell Schexnydre, by Mary Frost
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The seeming-endless legal battle for Long Island College Hospital (LICH) continues in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday as Brooklyn Health Partners Development Group (BHP) challenges SUNY’s decision to reject its bid for the embattled Cobble Hill hospital.

Merrell Schexnydre, president and CEO of BHP, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday that SUNY failed to negotiate in good faith for 30 days, as required under a court-mandated Request for Proposals (RFP) procedure.

”Ten days ago SUNY stopped talking to us and stopped answering question,” Schexnydre said. “We were pretty close to finishing the deal. We reached out on a couple of issues and our attorneys didn’t get a response.”

BHP supporters, including the non-profit Mobilizing Preachers and Community, representing black churches citywide, are expected to rally before the proceedings.

Schexnydre said BHP had asked for purchase and sales agreement, deeds and Attorney General’s comments, “which we didn’t get until Saturday night around 6 p.m.,” after state Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes forced SUNY’s hand.

BHP fulfilled all the contractual requirements, Schexnydre said. BHP’s attorneys said they delivered cashier checks for $25 million to Justice Baynes on Monday, along with documents proving BHP had obtained the required financial commitments and contracts with various health care entities for interim services.

SUNY did not respond to a request for a comment on Wednesday. On Monday, SUNY spokesperson David Doyle said in a statement, “Following good faith negotiations over the last thirty days, The State University of New York is unable to execute a satisfactory contract agreement with Brooklyn Health Partners.”

The main hitch was an issue surrounding the deed, said Schexnydre. BHP revised the deed to prohibit development of the non-core properties until the new hospital is completed and operating.

“We asked that that be the case, because we understand they are trying to portray BHP to the community as land-grabbers who will not build the hospital, he said.

BHP’s bid proposed a full-service hospital and future development of the non-core properties. The second- and third-place bidders are not offering to build hospitals.

Both the state and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came out against BHP last week. The Mayor set off a furor when his office, after meeting with BHP, said in a statement, “Any bid that fails to achieve our most critical goal should be passed over in favor of a plan that makes good on that promise to the people of these communities.”

On Friday in state Supreme Court, SUNY claimed that BHP was unable to fulfill the promises made in their proposal, including providing temporary “bridge” health services after SUNY walks away from the hospital on May 22.

The New York State Nurses Association, in a rare departure, agreed with SUNY, citing a letter BHP had written giving a fuzzy description of their proposed interim health care services.

By Monday, BHP presented signed commitments with several health care providers for interim services. On that same day, SUNY opened negotiations with developer Don Peebles. Peebles Corp. is offering a “free-standing emergency department” and ambulatory care, but no hospital.

Attorney Jim Walden, of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, told the Eagle late Monday, “This situation is obviously serious for the community, and particularly for medically vulnerable patients who depend on LICH for life-saving services. The community-group petitioners and Concerned Physicians of LICH, who we now represent, are carefully weighing options, as they should given the grave circumstances.”

Other groups and individuals have also started legal actions against SUNY, including Dr. Jon Berall, former LICH ombudsman.

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