Broward News

Former Hospital District Attorney Files Suit

Joe Truhe, the former associate general counsel for the North Broward Hospital District, filed suit today, alleging that in firing him last month, the public health care system violated the Whisteblower's Act. The suit also names Commissioner Robert Bernstein and the interim general counsel, Sam Goren, accusing the pair of conspiring to terminate Truhe for reasons other than those they have offered publicly.

Truhe and the general counsel, Marc Goldstone, were both fired on May 15, the day after the district's Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting to address questions raised by Bernstein about the attorneys' qualifications to practice law. Commissioners claimed to have been misled about the process by which the attorneys -- who were both recruited from out of state -- would become licensed to practice in Florida.

But as you may have read here at Juice (see yesterday's post and this one from last week), district records suggest the opposite: that Goldstone and Truhe kept the board apprised of their progress in gaining admission to the Florida Bar.

Which leaves one to wonder if there's another reason commissioners thought Goldstone and Truhe had to go.

The reason offered in Truhe's suit:

"[T]o punish Goldstone for his support of referring a public ethics investigation report to the Florida Commission on Ethics, and prevent such referral."
That, of course, is a reference to the ethics investigation of Commissioner Joseph Cobo. Had the commission fired only Goldstone, Truhe would have been the successor, and he too would have recommended sending the Cobo report to the state ethics board. Firing both led to the hiring of Goren as acting general counsel. Goren then advised the commissioners toward a softer punishment: sending the report to Gov. Charlie Crist, who appointed Cobo in 2007.

But the suit doesn't posit that the Cobo report's handling was the only motive -- just one. And given the intrigue that lurks behind the scenes at Broward Health, you can bet that Truhe's attorney Mark Berkowitz will have a grand time during the case's discovery period, with the legal right to explore a whole batch of possible motives.

Stay tuned for news of Goldstone's suit against the district. That cannot be far behind.

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Thomas Francis