Paying the Bills

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This is not the first time federal Judge Lewis Killian had Gulf Pines Hospital owner, Hubert Steeley, in his courtroom. Steeley owes the city of Port St. Joe and Gulf County more than $900,000.

The attorney for the city and county asked the judge to dismiss the bankruptcy because of bad faith filing. Ed Rude, Steeley's attorney, agreed the bankruptcy should be dismissed, but not on bad faith.

Rude says a deal with the asset based lender, Medical Capitol, should be finalized within the next couple of days and the lender will then buy the city's mortgage, note and pay back taxes as well. The judge ordered all parties to work together on an agreement about a timely payment.

Jim Donahue, the attorney for the city and country, says the agreement is fair if it all works out.

"The ruling the judge made today should cause one of two things to happen. Either the debtor, Gulf Pines Hospital, will have to pay Gulf County and the city of Port St. Joe the moneys that they're owed."

But the city and county need to see the money within the next week and a half with this agreement.

"Or the judge has indicated we would order dismissal of the case with prejudice for 180 days, meaning the city or county could seek whatever remedies to seek in state court to recover the funds they're owed."

Under the agreement, if the lender falls through with the funds, Steeley cannot file for bankruptcy again for at least six months.