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Double Trouble: Hospital District's New Attorney Is Twice the Price

Sam Goren, the attorney hired in May by the North Broward Hospital District to fill the general counsel's role, is racking up legal bills at a rate more than double the combined salaries of the two attorneys whose firings created that opening.

Billings provided to Juice in response to a Florida Public Records Law request show that the Fort Lauderdale firm of Goren, Cherof, Doody & Ezrol billed the public health district roughly $114,000 in the seven weeks following its assuming general counsel responsibilities. Multiply that figure across a calendar year and it comes to nearly $850,000. In the same one-year span former general counsel Marc Goldstone and his associate general counsel Joe Truhe were to be paid $410,000 combined.

Of course, Goldstone and Truhe were fired on the basis that they had misled commissioners as to the route through which they would gain admission to the Florida Bar. But in recent months, new documents suggest that the issue was not nearly as cut-and-dry as it was treated at the emergency board meeting of May 14 where the two were fired.

Thus far, Commissioner Robert Bernstein, who is not an attorney, has refused to say exactly how he suddenly learned that Goldstone could not be admitted to the bar in the manner he first proposed.

As for whether Goren is more ethically responsible than the lawyers he replaced, the alleged conflicts detailed in this post suggest otherwise.

Take a peek at the profiles of the attorneys in Goren's firm, and you won't find "health care law" listed among the specialties. Of course, the less a health care entity's general counsel knows about health care, the more he needs to send out the district's legal work to firms more versed in the subject.

So for those looking for other, undisclosed reasons for the commissioners' decision to terminate Goldstone and Truhe, saving district dollars can safely be scratched from the list, too.

Absent those apolitical motives, we have little choice but to explore the political ones, and then the challenge is to identify the most likely one. Were Goldstone and Truhe fired before they could recommend the proper course of action for a commissioner whose ethics are no under criminal investigation? Or were they fired because they were stingy about giving legal work to a law firm with powerful connections in Tallhassee? Or considering that historically the general counsel's role has been filled by a political insider, maybe the commissioners just weren't comfortable with an outsider being in the general counsel's office.

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Thomas Francis

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