MARSHALL - A Lyon County District Court judge will consider a motion by the American Medical Association and the Minnesota Medical Association to file a brief as friends of the court in a lawsuit brought against Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center on behalf of its medical staff.
In a hearing Friday afternoon, Judge Michelle Dietrich heard from attorneys for the medical associations and Avera Marshall before taking the matter under advisement.
Friday's hearing concerned a lawsuit brought against Avera Marshall earlier this year by Dr. Steven Meister, the hospital's chief of staff, and Dr. Jane Willett. The suit alleges that Avera Marshall has violated medical staff bylaws and prevented the chief of staff and the hospital's Medical Executive Committee from fulfilling their duties.
Eric Magnuson, an attorney for the AMA and MMA, said the professional organizations wanted to file a brief as amici curiae, or friends of the court. A friend of the court is a party not involved in a lawsuit who can provide additional information to the court. Magnuson said the medical associations' brief would have general information on medical staff policies, and would not advocate for an outcome in the lawsuit.
"I recognize that this is not commonly done in trial court," Magnuson said of the request for an amici brief. The judge would have the authority over whether to accept the brief, he said.
In response to the motion, David Crosby, attorney for Avera Marshall, said the AMA and MMA would not be impartial, and should not be friends of the court. Crosby said an affidavit from one of the plaintiffs identified the AMA and MMA as financial supporters of the suit. "They are paying for the lawsuit," Crosby said.
Magnuson said as far as he knew, the medical associations have not paid for the lawsuit. However, he said he would look into it.
Judge Dietrich said she would take the matter under advisement, but acknowledged the timeline in which she needed to issue an order on it.
A motion hearing by the parties in the lawsuit is scheduled for Wednesday.
The plaintiffs in the suit are seeking a judgment that Avera Marshall's medical staff bylaws are a contract between the hospital and medical staff.
At the April 18 hearing, the plaintiffs will also be seeking a temporary restraining order preventing Avera Marshall from adopting new bylaws.