Former RVHS employees get to argue case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

A fairness hearing scheduled for later this month in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court may address the issue of former River Valley Hospital employees who had accrued vacation time and sick days when the hospital closed.

The fairness hearing is set for March 17 before Judge Frank McCown. Certified Public Accountant David Payne, the court- appointed receiver for River Valley Hospital, said attorneys for the employees and for other creditors will discuss with McCown what priority the employees should be given in being paid for their benefits.

"That's the debate right now," Payne said. "Whether they should be classified as a priority claim or treated as a general creditor."

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According to records obtained by The Ironton Tribune, approximately 370 former employees accumulated $1,300,942.34 in unused sick days and vacation days.

Payne said in addition to the employees, 420 claims have been filed against the defunct hospital by creditors who were not employees.

Payne said negotiations continue with each of these creditors about how much each creditor is willing to accept as payment.

Previously, the Lawrence County Commission asked that the employees be given a top priority by the court. On Thursday, Doug Malone, who took office in January said he supported such an idea.

"I'd like to have seen them paid right off the bat, before the government got its money," Malone said. "They've waited for their money way longer than they should have."

Payne said since he was appointed by and works for the court, he must remain fair and cannot take sides on behalf of any creditor.