Former Monsour board called out
Two state lawmakers say it's time for former board members at the now-shuttered Monsour Medical Center to step up and take responsibility before someone is injured or killed in the trash-filled, decaying structure.
An angry Sen. Kim Ward said on Monday she wants the former directors to walk through the condemned building in Jeannette to view the myriad dangers it poses to the public.
“Let's bring the board of directors to the site and see if they'd walk into the building to see if it's safe,” she said. “People just can't walk away. There's no one being held accountable.”
The Hempfield Republican said the directors need to see the damage caused by vagrants and arsonists and the buckling walls and crumbling floors officials fear may one day cause the entire building to collapse, possibly onto congested Route 30.
Ward said she contacted the most recent board president, William Raber of Venetia, Washington County, by phone and mail to invite him to tour the structure. She had not received a response as of Monday afternoon.
Raber also did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, state Rep. George Dunbar, R-Penn Township, wants the city to cite the former directors for code violations for walking away from the struggling hospital.
“I think the best way is to go after the board of directors. We should send them letters warning them and cite them for the violations,” Dunbar said.
The identities of the directors — other than Raber — remain sketchy to everyone involved, city officials included, because of the chaos that ensued when the hospital closed in 2006 in the aftermath of a series of failed inspections and years spent mired in financial difficulties.
Like Ward and Dunbar, city Solicitor Scott Avolio believes the nonprofit's board is still responsible.
“Those directors, in essence, are the owners,” Avolio said. “The directors have liabilities.”
Avolio said he'll scour records dating to the 1990s in Westmoreland County Orphans Court to find the names of those directors.
Avolio is asking the state attorney general to investigate the directors for violating the state Purely Public Charities Act, which requires the transfer of the assets of a closing nonprofit to another nonprofit under the guidance of a county court. The act also requires nonprofits to file articles of dissolution with the court, which did not happen at Monsour, Avolio said.
When the hospital closed, the directors and administrators simply walked away from the operation, leaving behind records, furniture, medical equipment and other items, Avolio said.
Doug Branson, at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Law, said holding the board members responsible for the facility is a “crap shoot,” but one worth taking.
He said the state Attorney General's Office could file suit against the board members to tap into the former board's liability insurance, which could be used for the cleanup. Branson said that if board members no longer carry insurance, it would be more difficult to have a court order them to pay damages.
John Skiavo, president and CEO of the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland, a private, nonprofit economic development corporation that has dealt with abandoned buildings in Jeannette and Derry Township, said he believes trying to hold former directors responsible would be difficult.
Because there are no shareholders in a nonprofit, the former directors could reconvene and vote to file bankruptcy, which would end any responsibility they have, he said.
“They can walk away and therefore be free from any continuing responsibility,” Skiavo said. “The problem is left for municipal government.”
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen returns to starting lineup; Alvarez out
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Italian Village Pizza owners plead guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy
- South Side entrepreneur turns breakup into a chance to help heal others
- Steelers cornerbacks Allen, Gay, Taylor have something to prove
- Attorney General drops charges against ‘upper-level’ heroin dealers
- Parade of Mustangs to kick off Connellsville’s Mum Festival
- Steelers notebook: Team cuts 15 players, including LB So’oto, RB Hall
- Court overturns convictions in Amish hair attacks
- Pirates top Cardinals, 5-2, on Davis’ homer; Alvarez, McCutchen hurt
- Military: Jet in Virginia crash based in Mass.