Judge says of three Tri-City Hospital board members who asked for a permanent restraining order against Kathleen Sterling, "...none of the petitioners presented their case with clear and convincing proof."
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Restraining order nixed against hospital trustee
By Carl Ciaramella
April 5, 2011
Vista — A Superior Court judge on Monday rejected a request for a permanent restraining order filed by the Tri-City Healthcare District against board member Kathleen Sterling.
Six petitioners — three other board members and three hospital employees — accused Sterling of an escalating pattern of harassment, verbal threats and violence, including pushing and injuring security guards at a Feb. 24 meeting. Hospital lawyer Wendy Tucker said board members feared for their safety.
Sterling denied all of the allegations. She said she is the victim of political persecution for her outspoken criticism of hospital administration.
Judge Richard E. Mills dismissed all six requests, saying none of the evidence presented met the burden of proof required for a restraining order.
“Neither side in this case is without fault,” he said. “Ms. Sterling could modify her conduct and make more of an attempt to get along with the petitioners. … But in the end, none of the petitioners presented their case with clear and convincing proof.”
Sterling must be allowed into the main hospital building, although she must participate in board meetings from an adjacent room via telecom because of a previous censure. Sterling, who has been on the publicly elected board since 1998, has been censured seven times in the past year by her colleagues for disruptive behavior. The hospital has also filed a $100,000 lawsuit against Sterling for damages to its reputation, and she is facing felony charges of soliciting a bribe.
Sterling’s attorney, Scott McMillan, said he plans to challenge the censures that prevent her from attending board meetings in person, as well as seek attorney fees from the hospital. He will also request the lawsuit against Sterling be dismissed.
Tri-City Healthcare District operates Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside.