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Maxwell orders stay on collection of lodging tax; denies request for bond

Idabel, OK - In a November 1 ruling that McCurtain Memorial Hospital received tonight, McCurtain County district court judge, Emily Maxwell, ordered a stay on the collection of the new 2% lodging tax until the case is heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and denied the hospitals request that a bond be posted by the Plaintiff's. The ruling came after a October 30 hearing before Maxwell.


"We are extremely disappointed." Brian Whitfield, hospital President & CEO said.


"The idea that a vote can pass in all thirty precincts in this county with over 65% of votes saying, 'yes,' then a case can be brought by one woman, under the guise of a man no one has ever met, baffles me." Whitfield said.


In November 2022, the hospital campaigned across the county to pass the additional 2% lodging tax to build a new hospital. Soon after, chatter began that those seeking to incorporate the town of Hochatown would be filing suit to challenge the collection of the tax.


The suit surfaced in early 2023 with a Plaintiff from Oklahoma City. He soon withdrew his name from the lawsuit and a Dallas, Texas man took his place in the litigation. Despite the change in Plaintiff's, incorporators of Hochatown were and remain behind the lawsuit.


Attorneys for the hospital argued in front of Maxwell on October 30 that due to inability to collect the tax, cost to build the hospital continues to rise. Additionally, cost to construct the new facility likely will continue to rise more as the case lingers.


For this reason, the hospital asked that Plaintiffs, who lost their case on the merits before Maxwell back this summer, be required to post a cash bond if they wanted to continue to pursue appeals in an effort to protect the hospitals interest in the lost tax revenue.


Maxwell disagreed.


"Judge Maxwell has been very strategic in her rulings. It's evident that Judge Maxwell has put a lot of thought into this case and frankly, she felt her latest ruling was the right decision to make." Whitfield said.


"This is a complicated case. We are saddened by the ruling but we do not question her motives nor do we question her intent." Whitfield summed of Maxwell's ruling.


Learning of the news of the courts ruling while on vacation, Whitfield said the case is not over nor the fight for what's owed to tax payers.


"We are moving forward. We will see the Plaintiffs at the Supreme Court and this fight is one we will not give up on. We've been victorious in each step thus far and the reality is, 'you can't win them all." he said Friday night.


"We will regroup and with our counsel, we will prepare for the next steps." he stated.


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