Orlando Sentinel, February 16, 2011

In circuit court, hospital district commissioners repeatedly testified that they tried to do the right thing — so when their lawyers suggested that the "cure" for violating the open-meetings law would be starting the merger process again, they began with a clean slate. Attorneys for Adventist Health System and the Southeast Volusia Hospital District argued in court Tuesday that the merger of Bert Fish Medical Center and Adventist was legitimate — even though the district violated the state's Sunshine Law when its commissioners voted. Commissioners testified that when their lawyers suggested that the "cure" for violating the open-meetings law was starting the process again, they began with a clean slate. At issue is a 16-month series of closed-door meetings by commissioners of the New Smyrna Beach hospital. In May, they decided to merge with Adventist, the parent company of Florida Hospital. The $80 million deal took effect in July.

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