A Hudson County judge refused to block the sale of Bayonne Medical Center to Hudson Regional Hospital, ruling that the state Health Department must first consider the issues involved in the transaction.
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jablonski dismissed part of a complaint filed by BMC Hospital LLC, a rival suitor for the Bayonne facility, seeking a declaratory judgment that the 2019 sale of the real estate upon which the medical center sits is void because it did not meet regulatory requirements. But Jablonski allowed discovery to proceed on tortious interference, unfair competition and conspiracy claims.
In a statement, Hudson Regional said that as a result of the ruling, its $76 million purchase “is expected to close imminently.”
But BMC Hospital responded that the ruling deals only with the real estate issue, not the hospital license and operations, which it has agreed to acquire from current operator CarePoint Health. “Today’s Hudson County Superior Court ruling supports most contentions of the case filed by BMC Hospital LLC, holds the key claims for trial and refers a related decision to the New Jersey Department of Health,” BMC said in a statement.
CarePoint has been operating three hospitals in Hudson County: the Bayonne facility, Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Hoboken University Medical Center. In November 2019, Avery Eisenreich, the owner of the Alaris Health chain of nursing homes, purchased the land under Bayonne Medical Center and HUMC. CarePoint later announced that RWJBarnabas Health agreed to acquire Christ Hospital and HUMC. But according to published reports, Eisenreich has been holding up the transactions. In March, CarePoint and BMC Hospital, an entity comprising health care industry investors led by Wayne Hatami, reached an agreement on a sale of the Bayonne Medical Center.
The transactions have become enmeshed in litigation, leading to concerns that one or more of the facilities might not survive. The Department of Health must also approve the transfers.
“BMC contends that DOH regulations expressly require DOH Certificate of Need (CN) approval prior to transferring a hospital’s real estate,” BMC said in its statement. “Such approval has never been granted by DOH to the current property owner and no evidence has been produced to document that HRH has obtained a CN to become the new property owner.”
Hudson Regional took a more expansive view of Jablonski’s decision. “Today’s ruling was even stronger than the Court’s denial of a similar motion brought by CarePoint last month,” said Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, Hudson’s CEO, in a statement. “BMC Hospital LLC‘s dressing up these claims as its own was a frivolous attempt to upset the transaction entered by Hudson Regional to purchase the Bayonne Medical Center property and further reveals flaws in BMC Hospital LLC’s premise to take over Bayonne Medical Center.”