UTMB files lawsuit against Shriner's

March 27, 2009 2:58:03 PM PDT
Earlier this week, the board of the Shriner's Hospitals for Children upheld their decision to shut down its Galveston facilities, including the burn unit. On Friday, the University of Texas-Medical Branch in Galveston filed a lawsuit to keep that from happening, at least for a while.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

UTMB filed the restraining order, saying that the legal action is to protect research projects underway now at Shriner's. Calling it a marriage, UTMB claims they've had a partnership with Shriner's for 45 years and that being given two weeks notice to get out of the building is unrealistic and illegal.

UTMB has had legal permission since 1989 to practice and conduct research at Shriner's. Under the agreement, either party can terminate the contract by providing three months notice. Shriner's notified UTMB on March 12 for a closure on March 31.

UTMB says they have since offered to lease research areas or the entire building month-to-month. Shriner's has not accepted the offer.

UTMB claims that there is no appropriate research-ready space on campus to move their research and if they did move, it would take eight weeks or longer.

Besides losing valuable research, UTMB officials worry about a larger loss.

"The real losers here would be the children of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mexico. The real losers would be burn patients everywhere in the world who have benefited from this great relationship," said David Herndon of the UTMB Blocker Burns Unit.

Eyewitness News reported earlier this week that local Shriners have vowed to fight the closure at a national Shriners convention in San Antonio in July. Delegates can vote to overturn the Shriners leadership decision.

UTMB says they will be ready to treat burned children at their facilities in April.

A hearing on the injunction is set for sometime next week. Our calls to Shriner's for a reaction went unreturned.

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