Orteza v. Monongalia County General Hosp

In Orteza v. Monongalia County General Hosp., 173 W.Va. 461, 466, 318 S.E.2d 40, 45 (1984), the Court discussed at length the status of Monongalia General, listing all of its public and private characteristics. After weighing these characteristics, the Court concluded: "Certainly, the appellant Hospital Company lies somewhere in the twilight zone between a government instrumentality and a private charity. The record does not establish any nexus between the state and the Hospital Company's personnel decisions, and the trend in state action decisions would seem to be away from finding state action in cases involving personnel at quasi-public institutions. Nevertheless, we shall assume arguendo, that the hospital is a public agency for our purposes here and analyze the case before us from that point of view." (Orteza, 173 W.Va. at 466, 318 S.E.2d at 45.) In Orteza, the Court noted: The appellant hospital is housed in facilities that are owned by the Monongalia County Building Commission, a public body, and leased to the private hospital corporation. The hospital must make periodic financial reports to the county, which can then review them to insure proper management of the hospital. Moreover, the Monongalia County Building Commission exercises real and substantial power over the selection of members of the appellant's Board of Trustees. According to the Hospital's by-laws, the Board of Trustees submits three names to the Building Commission, which then has thirty days to select one of the nominees, if it finds one to be acceptable. The Building Commission is a public body, an agency of the County Commission created specifically by the latter to accommodate the construction and administration of Monongalia General Hospital. Furthermore the hospital has been and remains dependent on public resources for its operation. Public funds financed nearly all of the construction of the appellant's physical plant and the county established the Building Commission specifically to secure funding from the Farmer's Home Administration. The Building Commission issued bonds to help finance construction, and the hospital derives more than one third of its revenue from governmental sources. At the time this case was tried the hospital also participated in the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement Plan, which through joint state and employee contributions, provides pension benefits to state employees. . . . Having said all of that, however, it should also be noted that Monongalia General Hospital has several important private characteristics. The hospital was incorporated by private individuals . . . as a conscious decision to move the facility away from the political arena and to make it a more attractive recipient of revenue bond funding. Thus, the hospital's private status can be seen as a necessary factor in its continued existence. Secondly, the Hospital Company receives no funding from the County Commission nor does it receive other direct payments from the state. Finally, the Hospital Company is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a private, not-for-profit corporation. (Orteza, 173 W.Va. at 464-65, 318 S.E.2d at 43-44.)