News

OMC settles dispute with former landlord

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

The board of the Olympic Medical Center has agreed to pony up $270,000 to settle a lawsuit over a Sequim facility formerly utilized by OMC as an imaging center. The board made the decision during the Wednesday, Feb. 1, meeting.

 

The facility, at 500 West Fir St., now is part of the Sequim Physical Therapy Center.

 

Citing a confidentiality clause in the settlement, OMC officials provided few details but did say the settlement was reached with Bonner Investments, LLC, the Utah-based firm that owns the building. OMC leased the building from Bonner beginning in September 2005.

 

Jeff Anderson, a spokesman for OMC, said disputes arose “concerning the meaning and intent of the lease and the parties’ respective rights and obligations at the end of the lease.” Specifically, the question was raised as “to what property rightfully belonged to and could be properly removed by tenant OMC at the end of the lease.”

 

In the lawsuit, which was filed in late February 2011, Eric Bonner, owner of Bonner Investments, said OMC was in “breach of contract” after dismantling and removing a medical imaging facility from the property.

 

The suit further stated the removal “was contrary to the express terms of the lease … and (OMC) did this in order to give itself the monopoly on medical imaging services in the Sequim-Port Angeles area.”

After filing the suit, Bonner told the Gazette the Sequim office was custom-built as a medical imaging facility. He noted that the tenants before OMC, Peninsula Medical Imaging, occupied the facility for more than 3½ years, performing CT scans, MRI scans and certain types of nuclear medicine.

 

After OMC took over the facility, Bonner said, they “almost immediately started gearing the business down,” while pointing patients to existing OMC facilities.

Packing up

When OMC departed the facility, they removed what Bonner calls the “imaging infrastructure.”

 

“We have no problem with them taking the equipment,” he said. But Bonner said despite his repeated protests, OMC also removed the specialty doors and windows, the high-voltage 800-amp service and the radiation shielding in the walls.

 

“Even the conduit, wiring and breaker boxes,” he said.

 

Regarding his Sequim investment, Bonner said, “We purchased an imaging building.”

 

The building was designed for that purpose, he said, “with lots of bathrooms, changing rooms and large rooms” that could hold the massive equipment.

 

Following the filing of the lawsuit, Rhonda Curry, OMC’s assistant administrator for strategic development, questioned the assertions in the suit, saying, “OMC removed only the tenant improvements we purchased — after offering to sell them to Bonner — and left the building in immaculate condition.

Anyone can operate a free-standing imaging center there ... by purchasing the equipment needed to do so.”

 

Bonner said this week that “all the differences have been worked out,” but added that he is unable to discuss further details of the settlement.

 

Anderson also noted that the agreement “does not constitute an acknowledgement or admission of liability on the part of either party.”

 

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.
 
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