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Judge rules in favor of UW/Valley Med alliance; appeal is possible

A King County Superior Court judge late Friday morning dismissed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the strategic alliance between UW Medicine and Valley Medical Center.

Judge Michael Hayden listened to oral arguments for about 45 minutes before ruling that the alliance between two public entities is permitted under state law. Attorneys for both sides had already submitted written briefs for him to consider.

Hayden alluded to the possibility of an appeal; the lawsuit was brought by the Public Hospital District No. 1 commission.

Dr. Paul Joos, the commission chairman, declined to comment on the ruling, but he said the commission would discuss whether to appeal the ruling at its January meeting. Joos was elected to the commission after the alliance was approved in a 3-2 vote.

Phil Talmadge, a former state legislator and former state Supreme Court justice who argued the case for the hospital district, indicated in an interview that he would recommend the commission appeal directly to the state Supreme Court.

The hospital district’s lawsuit maintained the elected district commissioners could not delegate their legislative responsibilities for a public institution to unelected decision makers.

However, the UW Medicine attorney, Lou Peterson, argued the alliance is permitted under  state law.

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