Washington Hospital sued by competitor

March 22, 2013
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Exterior of Washington Hospital Order a Print
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Katie Green / The Almanac
The exterior of Advanced Imaging in Peters Township

Mon Valley Hospital and its radiology services provider, Advanced Imaging, on Friday sued Washington Hospital in Washington County Court, claiming it conspired with a property owner and his business agent in an “illegal scheme” to eliminate its competition and destroy a business.

The six-count lawsuit contends James G. Manolakas of Canonsburg, who has leased a McMurray building to Advanced for 17 years, and Raymond A. Polk & Co. led Advanced to believe its lease would be renewed this year only to “shockingly” show the building to prospective tenants in February and then agree to lease the property to Washington Hospital, court records indicate.

Mon Valley Hospital further contends Washington Hospital has no need to provide radiological diagnostic services in the building, as it already has such services in Waterdam Plaza in Peters, and that it plans to purchase Advanced’s equipment at a “fire sale.”

The lawsuit filed by Pittsburgh attorney John P. Corcoran Jr. and Washington attorney Douglas R. Nolin accuses the defendants of breach of lease and conducting a civil conspiracy and asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment extending Advanced’s lease on the building at 4198 Washington Road through May 2018. Mon Valley Hospital subleases the building from Advanced.

Advanced is the only provider of radiology services to Mon Valley, and its closing would disrupt the continuity of patient care at Mon Valley and force it to quit offering such services, the lawsuit states. The lease currently in effect was signed May 1, 2003, for five years, and and there was a five-year extension that runs through May 31, 2013, the record shows.

The company continued to expand the operation by purchasing large-scale imaging equipment that weighs 35 tons and required a crane for some of the installations.

Advanced claims it received correspondence July 22, 2011, from Polk, of Allison Park, stating the lease extension would be issued in January, at the same time the rent would be recalculated to reflect increases in insurances, taxes and utilities. A month later, an agent representing the property owner requested a time to show the office to prospective tenants, the lawsuit states. It further claims Polk never returned subsequent telephone messages from Advanced, which was advised March 1 its lease would not be renewed. Advanced believes Polk agreed to lease the property to Washington Hospital prior to Jan. 23, according to the suit.

“Washington Hospital and Polk knew of the Mon Valley Hospital sublease and sought to eliminate Advanced Imaging and Mon Valley Hospital from the marketplace for the provision of radiological imaging services,” the lawsuit states.

“This was all part of an underhanded plan by and between Washington Hospital and Polk to lull Advanced Imaging and Mon Valley Hospital into a false sense of security,” the document alleges.

The March 1 notification of the lease’s termination does not give Advanced enough time to remove its equipment from the building, forcing it to close and furlough employees, the company claims.

It is asking the court to direct Manolakas to “desist any further interference with the operations” of Advanced and terminate any agreement between the defendants.

Corcoran said he would not discuss the case with the media and referred comment to Washington Hospital, whose spokeswoman, Jamie Ivanac, said it would have no comment until the court documents are reviewed.

Mon Valley Hospital spokeswoman Corinne Laboon said it had no comment on pending litigation.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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