Back in 2008, Bobby and Dhonna Goodale of Flanders gave a $1 million donation to the Peconic Bay Medical Center to help offset the construction costs on the second phase of the hospital’s $50 million expansion project.
They say the hospital, in turn, agreed to grant them naming rights on the new expanded Emergency Center, with their choice of a name to be placed on a sign outside the ER.
But more than four years later, there is no such sign, and the Goodales last week filed a lawsuit against the hospital seeking to have their $1 million returned.
“We’re just very sad that it had to go this far,” Ms. Goodale said in an interview. “We have worked with them for over a year to resolve this and they have been very dismissive.”
Ms. Goodale added, “We believe they never had any intention” of following the family’s wishes on the name choice.
Hospital officials called the lawsuit “baseless.”
“PBMC is very disappointed that Dr. and Mrs. Goodale, longtime supporters of the hospital, have decided to bring a baseless suit against the medical center and its affiliated foundation,” said hospital spokesman Demetrios Kadenas. “The Medical Center has fully complied to all agreements made with Dr. and Mrs. Goodale, and PBMC is confident that the suit will be dismissed.”
In court papers filed Feb. 6, the Goodales claim PBMC president Andrew Mitchell solicited donations from them on Feb. 15, 2008, and that when they pledged $1 million, Mr. Mitchell promised them the right to select the name to be affixed to the building.
But on May 24, 2012, according to the lawsuit, the hospital decided on its own without consulting the Goodales to call the ER the “Jesse and Mary Goodale Emergency Center,” after Mr. Goodale’s parents.
Failing to consult the Goodales constitutes a breach in the agreement, the lawsuit states.
In Dec. 2012, the Goodales decided on the name “The Dhonna and Jesse Goodale Emergency Center.” (Bobby’s first name is Jesse). But on Jan. 24, 2013, the hospital board adopted a resolution to call the center the “Goodale Emergency Department.”
In addition to the repayment of the $1 million, the lawsuit also seeks $3 million in punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees, although that would only apply if it can be proven that the hospital never intended to name the emergency center what the Goodales wanted, according to John Ciarelli, the Goodales’ attorney.