COVINGTON -- A lawsuit against Newton County by Grady Memorial Health Corporation has been dismissed in Newton County Superior Court.
The suit, filed in September 2011, was an effort by Grady to reclaim $87,356.89 for hospital treatment of a former Newton County inmate, Johnny O. Workman. According to court documents, Workman was involved in a motor vehicle accident in July 2009 in Newton County and was taken to Grady for treatment. He was released a few days later.
On July 10, a warrant was issued for Workman's arrest for driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving. On July 16, after his release from Grady, he was arrested and booked by the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
"It was Newton County's position that because Mr. Workman had not been arrested at the time he was admitted and treated at Grady Hospital, and was, therefore, not in Newton County's custody, Newton County is not liable for the expenses," said Andrea Gray with the County Attorney's Office. However, "the court didn't address the issue of whether Newton County was liable for the hospital expenses because Grady Hospital failed to meet the procedural requirements to maintain the claim," she said.
Newton County argued that a claim against a county is barred unless presented in writing within 12 months after it accrues or becomes payable, and must include notice of who is making the claim, the nature and amount of the claim and what damages are claimed.
Grady argued that submitting the claim to the county's third-party contractor for healthcare, NaphCare, was sufficient. According to the county's motion to dismiss, Grady "never provided formal, written notice to the Defendant," and the first notice was the lawsuit, filed in September 2011, more than a year past the deadline.
Superior Court Judge Ken Wynne dismissed the action due to failure to provide proper notice as required by law.
County Attorney Tommy Craig presented the results to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.
"This is, in my opinion, a very good win for Newton County and one of many wins we have from the County Attorney's Office; $87,000 is an awful lot of money," said Commissioner Mort Ewing, who went on to thank Craig and his staff for "the job done not only on this case but all the cases they've won during the years I've been a commissioner and I know there have been many more during his 36 years as county attorney."