Former MHSC CEO Files Claim Against Hospital and Trustees

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Former CEO of Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Gerard Klein has filed a claim against the hospital claiming he is entitled to over half a million dollars in severance benefits. The governmental claim is against Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and Trustees Richard Mathey, Taylor Jones, and Barbara Sowada.

In the claim, a full version of which can be seen below, Klein says he did not resign his position as CEO and has not received a notice of termination.

During an emergency meeting held by the Board of Trustees of MHSC on February 7, 2017, the Trustees voted to accept Klein’s resignation without the conditions attached to it. Earlier that day, the Board of County Commissioners voted to reduce the number of Hospital Trustees to five. With other Trustee resignations and removals taking place that same day, the Commissioners appointed Barbara Sowada to the hospital board for a total of three trustees in order to have a quorum.

Sowada was not sworn in during her first meeting on February 7th and officially took an oath during a special meeting on February 16th. Board Chair Richard Mathey claimed in a meeting on February 9th that an oath was not legally required prior to taking office as a trustee because the position is appointed and not elected.

The claim against the hospital says the minimum number of trustees required by state statute is five.

The governmental claim states: “Without public notice, without the statutorily required number of Trustees, and without Sowoda (sic) being sworn in, Mathey, Jones, and Sowoda (sic) met in executive session on February 7 and then convened in an open session. Mr. Mathey, acting as chairman, reported that Mr. Klein had made a conditional offer of resignation. These three individuals then resolved to “accept Mr. Klein’s resignation,” but without the conditions attached to it. That is, of course, no resignation at all. All actions taken are void.”

The claim further states that the Trustees met with Klein at about 7 p.m. the same day and told him they accepted his resignation, at which point Klein told them he had not resigned and “their lawyers would need to talk about that.”

In addition, the claim says the Board of Trustees voted to ratify their prior acceptance of Klein’s resignation during a meeting February 9th but did not mention any of the conditions. The board then voted to void Klein’s contract, a decision for which Klein says he has not received any notice.

The claim says Klein did not resign and there are no grounds to void his contract.

The claim filed against the hospital alleges that Klein is still an employee at the hospital as a matter of law, and is therefore entitled to the full benefits of his contract.

In a letter submitted to the Trustees of MHSC dated January 8, 2017, which was released by the County Commissioners earlier this year, Klein claimed that his duties as CEO had changed dramatically and had limited his abilities as CEO. In that letter, Klein said the hospital became a hostile work environment and put him in the middle of a power struggle between County Commissioners and the hospital board as well as within the hospital board itself.

The following is a portion of the letter submitted to the Board of Trustees by Klein via email, which is dated January 8, 2017. The full letter can be viewed below. “This letter is my official notice to the President of the Board that I believe my ability to do my job and my authority to do my job as CEO have been changed by the actions of some Board members and some number of the Sweetwater County Commissioners. I ask that the President of the Board acknowledge to me that the hospital will honor its severance commitments to me, as stipulated in my employment agreement.”

The governmental claim against the hospital states that Klein is entitled to the following benefits, assuming a termination on February 7, 2017:

  • Annual Salary of $370,000 for 18 months totaling $555,000;
  • Health/Dental Vision: Hospital pays $622.60 per pay period, 26 pay periods per year=$16,187.60 per year for 18 months totaling $24,281.40;
  • Lincoln Life: Hospital pays $20.25 per pay, 26 days per year=$26.50/year for 18 months for a total of $789.75
  • Prudential Life: Hospital pays entire premium of $15, 447 which covers 18 months.

The total amount of requested severance benefits is $595,518.15.

The Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Board of Trustees has not acted on the claim at this time.

Notice of Claim of Gerard Klein Against Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Richard Mathey, Taylor Jones, and Barbara Sowada:

[pdf-embedder url=”http://wyo4news.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Notice-of-Claim-Klein-March-2017.pdf” title=”Notice of Claim Klein March 2017″]

Letter from Klein to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Trustees dated January 8, 2017 (released by County Commissioners):

[pdf-embedder url=”http://wyo4news.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/letter.pdf”]