ATTORNEY GENERAL LARRY LONG AND BANNER HEALTH REACH SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
(Pierre)- Attorney General Larry Long announces settlement of three pending lawsuits against Banner Health for a total value of almost three million dollars. The lawsuits concerned Banner’s sale of Lookout Memorial Hospital, the David M. Dorsett Nursing Home, Sturgis Community Health Care Center, and Belle Fourche Health Care Center to Rapid City Regional Hospital and West Dakota Health Care; of Gregory Healthcare Center and Rosebud Home to Avera- McKennan; and of Eureka Health Care Center to Avera-St. Luke’s.
In recognition of the expense, time, and unpredictability associated with the lawsuits, the Attorney General and Banner reached a settlement this week. “This settlement will benefit elderly and health care facilities in the communities of Spearfish, Sturgis, Belle Fourche, Eureka, and Gregory,” Long said. “I feel so strongly about ensuring that the communities receive all settlement proceeds that I am not using any of the money to reimburse my office for the costs of the lawsuits.”
The settlement provides that Banner will pay the sum of $1,825,000 cash to the Attorney General. “The cash payment of $1,825,000 will be transferred in its entirety to community foundations in trust for health and elderly care in each of the communities.” Long said. The settlement also acknowledges the fact that Banner transferred $600,000 of restricted funds to the buyers of the facilities when they were sold in 2002 for the benefit of several of the hospitals, nursing homes, and related organizations. Banner also agrees to forgive approximately $500,000 in debts and obligations associated with elderly care facilities and services in the Northern Black Hills.
The settlement between the Attorney General and Banner was reached partially due to the efforts of Blayne Pummel, who previously managed the hospitals and nursing homes in the Black Hills for a predecessor of Banner. “I think this is a great settlement for the communities that invested in these facilities, and I’m honored that I had the opportunity to play a role,” Pummel said.