SWEETWATER COUNTY — Former Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) CEO Jerry Klein has filed a Notice of Claim under the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act. The claim is against Memorial Hospital as well as Trustee members Richard Mathey, Taylor Jones and Barbara Sowada.
The document, which is a prerequisite for proceeding with an official lawsuit against a governmental organization, was sent on March 3 and seeks at least $595,518.15 in compensation.
Klein’s contract with MHSC began on January 1st, 2014 and he served as CEO until just recently. Whether his employment was legally and officially terminated on February 7th, 2017, is at the heart of his claim against the MHSC Board of Trustees.
Klein’s claim centers on the legalities of the power struggle which culminated on February 7th, 2017, in his removal from the CEO position after an emergency meeting of the Board, which happened only hours before.
Klein cites what he alleges were irregular actions taken by the Sweetwater County Board of County Commissioners and the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Board of Trustees.
The notice argues that on February 7, 2017, the Sweetwater County Commissioners voted to reduce the number of Trustees of the Board of MHSC from seven down to two.
The notice states that the minimum number of trustees allowed by Wyoming statute is five.
Klein’s notice goes on to state that the County Commissioners then appointed Barbara Sowada as the third member of the board, but failed to swear her in.
Klein’s notice calls into question the validity of all actions taken by the board after it was reduced, including the action to accept his conditional offer of resignation, without conditions, the vote to void his contract and a second vote on February 9th to ratify their prior acceptance of Klein’s conditional resignation, this time with no mention of conditions.
Klein’s claim argues that he has never been officially terminated, “No notice of termination has been given to Mr. Klein,” the document states that legally Klein remains an employee of the hospital and is entitled to the full benefit of his employment contract. The claim also states that no valid grounds have been cited to “void” his contract and that he has not resigned since the conditions of his resignation were ignored.
The claim goes even further and says that the actions of MHSC Board of Trustees, Mathey, Jones, and Sowada, taken on February 7th and 9th “while acting under color of State law,” deprived Klein of valid property and liberty interests in violation of section 42 of U.S.C. 1983 and 1988.
The document used a February 7 termination date to calculate the total amount of benefits that Klein argues he is owed. The claim also asks for ongoing benefits until there has been a valid termination of the contract.
It also asks for interest on unpaid benefits and salary in addition to attorney’s fees.
Click the document below to read the full claim.