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Former litigant in hospital appeal loses suit against remaining plaintiffs

June 26, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - A group of people who once led the fight against Washington County Hospital's proposed move turned on each other Monday in Washington County District Court.

J. Michael Nye sued the five litigants still active in a court battle to prevent the hospital from moving near the Robinwood Medical Center, saying he was owed money he paid in legal fees.

District Judge Mark D. Thomas ruled Monday that Nye was owed no money from the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Those plaintiffs included Robert and Sally Hatch, Gordon and Janet Bartels, and Chuck Hongell.

Nye sued the families for about $5,000.

"I was disappointed that nine months after we started this process that the other people in our group would claim they had no responsibility for the cost and the responsibilities were all mine," Nye said.

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In November 2006, opponents of the new hospital appealed a Washington County Circuit Court decision that allowed zoning variances to the Robinwood Medical Center property. Those variances would have allowed construction of the hospital to go forward.

The Court of Special Appeals heard the case earlier this month.

On Monday, Thomas said Nye and the plaintiffs had no contract obligating them to pay any portion of the legal fees, which total about $30,000.

Thomas said any agreements between the sides were largely "ambiguous."

He said that the only document presented in court Monday that was a signed contract between the two parties placed the burden to pay all legal fees and other costs on Nye.

The families Nye sued said after the ruling that they were looking forward to putting the lawsuit behind them.

Nye said he was going to do the same.

"I'm disappointed in an outcome that seems so basic and logical between the two parties and it somehow got distorted and confused to give the appearance of something that wasn't," he said.

As a result, Nye said his community services activities will end, but he is now an advocate for the hospital.

"... Because they're going to do this now no matter what, so we might as well get on with it, and get as much as we can, like new roads," Nye said.

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