UK appeals attorney-general rulings that say doctors’ foundation and compensation committee are public agencies

The University of Kentucky has appealed to Fayette Circuit Court two attorney general’s rulings that the foundation that bills for and pays UK doctors and the UK HealthCare Compensation Planning Committee are public agencies subject to the state open-records law. Attorney-general decisions in open-government matters have the force of law unless overturned in court.

Lachin Hatemi (Herald-Leader photo by Patrick Mitchell)

Both lawsuits name as a defendant Lachin Hatemi, a former UK medical student who requested records of the committee and the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation, and Attorney General Andy Beshear.  He and his predecessor, Jack Conway, ruled that the committee and the foundation are public agencies because UK faculty members run them. “The foundation contends in multiple lawsuits that it is a private entity that doesn’t have to allow the public to inspect its records,” notes Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“Hatemi’s requests included the names of students who received college scholarships from the foundation, numerous financial records and the foundation’s financial relationships with private businesses,” Blackford reports. He also requested minutes of the Compensation Planning Committee, which is “made up of faculty and department chairs,” Blackford reports. “UK has argued that because the committee provides advice, not policy, it’s not a public entity. The foundation’s lawyers characterized Hatemi’s requests as ‘an attempt to disrupt KMSF operations and harass and intimidate KMSF employees and officers for whom he has previously expressed contempt,’ the documents say. However, neither the foundation nor UK asked for any specific action against Hatemi.” Beshear’s March 2016 opinion said the foundation’s lawyers had not presented “clear and convincing evidence” that Hatemi’s requests were unreasonable or made to harass.

Blackford notes, “The foundation has made headlines in the past year because of its links to a controversial UK surgeon who lost his privileges to work in UK hospitals in August. Paul Kearney alleged that UK administrators decided to pursue the revocation only after he started asking questions about how the foundation was spending money.

Hatemi is one of Kearney’s former students.”

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