Health Care Authority paying $900,000 legal bill

Monday, November 8th 2004, 8:33 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has spent $900,000 in legal fees to defend top officials in a lawsuit they have lost twice.

That figure is expected to climb as the suit is appealed, and it's possible the state may also have to pay the plaintiff's legal fees. Plaintiff's fees totaled more than $858,000 last year.

A group of mental health care providers sued Health Care Authority Chief Executive Officer Mike Fogarty and two other top agency officials. The group claims the three retaliated against them for speaking out at a legislative meeting at the state Capitol.

In 2003, a jury awarded the plaintiffs $34.4-million. A federal judge later reduced that amount and then tossed the judgment.

But the plaintiffs prevailed at a new trial, getting a judgment of slightly more than $16-million.