Court finds hospital inadmissible in lawsuit against inspectorate

POSTED: 10/17/12 5:10 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance declared inadmissible the request by the St. Maarten Medical Center to apply article 85 of the national ordinance on administrative law (Lar) in its conflict with the Public Health Inspectorate. This way the hospital wanted to suspend the higher supervision the Inspectorate announced on September 8.

But Judge mr. Rene van Veen ruled that a Lar-procedure is only possible against a decree – a written decision by a governing body that contains a statutory legal action that is not of a general tenor.”

The letter the Inspectorate sent on September 8 imposes on the hospital the obligation to present a feasible action plan that addresses the critical issues it found and that the inspectorate will conduct announced and unannounced inspections “at least three times a month.” The inspectorate wrote that failure to comply “may” result in fines or (temporary) closure of functional units – without indicating which units it has in mind.

The inspectorate also noted in its letter something that has not been confirmed by the court: “The decision to put SMMC under higher supervision isn’t based on administrative law and as such objections cannot be raised and appeal against the decision is not possible.”

Judge Van Veen ruled that the higher supervision does not change the hospital’s legal status. “The announcement (by the Inspectorate – ed.) and the inspections do not change anything in the rights, obligations and competences of the plaintiff. The same goes for the instruction to write a plan of approach. It is an instruction to act, but it does not change the rights, obligations and competences.”

The judge dismissed the hospital’s argument that it was put under a tough administrative obligation, because the inspectorate’s letter only hints at the possibility of enforcement through fines and temporary closures.

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