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St. John’s Health Board of Trustees Applauds District Court Decision Regarding Hospital Governance

St. John’s Health (SJH) is pleased to announce it has prevailed in the Summary Judgment Order issued by the 9th Judicial District Court in the matter of Sandy Ress v. St. John’s Health.

The SJH Board of Trustees applauds District Court Judge Melissa Owens’s decision, ruling that the Board had followed Wyoming law in its governance. Specifically, Judge Owens ruled that:

  • The appointments of Trustees Evan Jones and Jim Hunt complied with Wyoming law on Public Meetings and the Board’s own policies on filling vacancies on the Board between elections;
  • The Board’s policies on Public Records access comply with Wyoming law;
  • The Board’s consideration of matters in Executive Session was proper in all respects and complied with Wyoming law on confidentiality of certain personnel and other confidential topics;
  • The use of committees by the Board in conducting its business complied with Wyoming law.

In addition, the Court ruled that Ress’s claims about violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1966 were baseless.

With this ruling, there remain only two minor issues in Ress’s lawsuit: whether the Board complied with Wyoming law in its documentation of the process for convening executive sessions, and whether the Hospital District has constructive control over individual Board Members’ personal cellphones and other devices. The latter point has not been decided under Wyoming law.

SJH was ably represented by Jason Tangeman of Nicholas & Tangeman, LLC.

“Despite Mr. Ress’s many claims, the St. John’s Health Board of Trustees takes great care to ensure that our board actions and policies are in accordance with the law and a model of transparency,” stated Board Chair Katharine Conover-Keller. “With a ruling on the major issues of this lawsuit now behind us, the Board looks forward to moving its focus back to the important issues confronting SJH and all rural hospitals. We are committed to delivering outstanding patient care for all residents of and visitors to Teton County, as well as maintaining SJH’s independence as a community hospital.”

Conover-Keller added, “I want to assure the community that the Trustees are committed to transparency in the Board’s actions and have implemented numerous new processes and policies, starting long before the lawsuit was filed, that facilitate access to public meetings and records. Recent enhancements include the archive of public meeting recordings on the public website, a new public records request policy, and a separate hospital-owned system for confidential exchange of hospital-related text messages for Board members to use. The system separates personal phone usage from private usage, so hospital board members personal information is not comingled with hospital business.”


Media Contact: Karen Connelly, Chief Communications Officer,