Client Successes Mar 5, 2019

City’s Ordinance Upheld

BB&K Team Represented City of San Clemente in Hospital Ordinance Challenge

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A team of Best Best & Krieger LLP attorneys represented the City of San Clemente in the successful defense of a City ordinance that ensures operations for a much-needed hospital. Partners Jeffrey Dunn and Christopher Pisano and Associate Daniel Richards argued in federal court that a petition seeking to invalidate the City’s ordinance should be dismissed, and presented evidence showing that City’s decision to maintain a hospital in the region is in the public’s best interest.
 
San Clemente Mayor Steve Swartz said in a statement he was pleased with the decision. “The court’s ruling validates the City’s position in protecting the public safety of its residents and the greater South Orange County Region by ensuring the property is zoned for a hospital and emergency room.”
 
MemorialCare sought the petition for writ of mandate in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. MemorialCare wanted to invalidate the City’s ordinance requiring operation of hospital at the site of the former Saddleback Memorial Hospital. The court disagreed with MemorialCare’s argument that the ordinance was “arbitrary and capricious,” finding in a 44-page ruling that the ordinance was supported by evidence and motivated by the City’s concern for the public’s interest.
 
In the ruling, the court noted that evidence supported the City’s decision that maintaining a hospital would be in the public interest, including that the City considered: “(1) the fact that the Hospital received about 15,000 annual emergency room visits, (2) a study demonstrating that emergency department closures increase patient mortality at nearby hospital, and (3) the OCFA [Orange County Fire Authority] report indicating that the Hospital’s closure would increase impacts to other hospitals within Orange County and would impact OCFA’s provision of emergency services.”
 
The case is Memorial Health Service et al. v. City of San Clemente.

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