High court refuses to end fight between hospital, union

The Nevada Supreme Court refused Wednesday to put an end to a battle between Carson-Tahoe Hospital and the carpenters union.

The union took Carson-Tahoe to court earlier this year saying the hospital should be required to pay prevailing wages for work on the new hospital building at the north end of town. Hospital officials responded that they were no longer under that rule because they are now a private company and cannot be bound by laws requiring prevailing wages be paid on public projects.

Carson District Judge Mike Griffin agreed with the union and May 3 ordered the hospital to pay prevailing wages on construction of the hospital.

Both the hospital and the Nevada labor commissioner appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. The labor commissioner's office argued it can't be held responsible for enforcing the law against a private corporation.

Union officials pointed out, among other things, that the hospital is a private non-profit corporation.

Also complicating the issue is the fact the hospital is using Economic Development Revenue Bonds to finance the $95 million project and hospital officials say they have a "guaranteed maximum price construction contract" with Hunt Construction.

Hospital lawyers asked the high court for a writ of prohibition blocking enforcement of Griffin's order mandating payment of higher prevailing wage rates.

The union argued the petition was defective because it violates appellate rules and no bond was posted to cover costs if the hospital loses.

"C-TH could simply have filed a notice of appeal separately," the union argued.

The high court panel of Bob Rose, Bill Maupin and Michael Douglas agreed, saying a writ of prohibition should be issued "only when there is no plain, speedy and adequate remedy at law."

The court pointed out Carson-Tahoe has filed an appeal of Griffin's order and said that appeal "appears to afford petitioner with an adequate remedy."

The decision gives no indication which side will eventually prevail, instead instructing both sides to argue the appeal on its merits.

Reach Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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