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Lawsuit Filed By Former Hospital Foundation Director

POSTED September 18, 2012 10:51 p.m.

The falling out between the Oak Valley Foundation and Oak Valley Hospital continues as former Executive Director Amy Thompson filed suit against the hospital and its former CEO John Friel claiming wrongful termination, breach of contract, and interference with protected civil rights.

The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 21 in Stanislaus Superior Court and Thompson is being represented by Sonora attorney Scott Ward.

In July 2011, Thompson, who had been in the position since 2001, was removed as foundation director by Friel, which created more of an already existing rift between the administration, particularly Friel, and the foundation. The foundation claimed its bylaws stated the director could only be terminated with the consent of its officers.

Thompson is also claiming that because she was now-OVH board president Dan Cummins’ campaign manager and also campaigned for challengers Wendell Chun and Louise Sanders, she was targeted by Friel for removal

Cummins, Chun, and Sanders are all now on the board and ran as a “slate” in November 2010 critical of Friel and his management style.

Friel, who became the OVH CEO in 2002, did not have his contract extended and left OVH in February. He is now CEO of Catalina Island Medical Center in Avalon, California.

The lawsuit cites that Thompson’s actions were protected political activities and states Friel developed a “personal animosity” toward her.

In July 2011, Friel stated the foundation was not functioning as a proper fundraising organization of the district and dismissed Thompson.

In 2012 an Oak Valley Hospital consultant made the same finding toward philanthropic activity and made the recommendation to dissolve the Oak Valley Foundation’s current executive board in favor of a newly-appointed director to be hired by the hospital’s CEO.

The foundation currently does not have an executive director.

When contacted, current hospital CEO John McCormick stated he had no comment on the matter of Thompson’s litigation.

The lawsuit, which does not list a dollar amount, is set for a case management conference on Dec. 24, 2012.

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