Lawsuit over senior center among reasons Cooper bailed on Lourdes acquisition

Lourdes image from Twitter
Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden is one of the facilities that Cooper Health System would have acquired from Trinity Health under a deal that was called off in December.

When Cooper Health System decided in December not to go through with a preliminary agreement to acquire Lourdes Health System and St. Francis Medical Center, it cited unresolved litigation with developer Joseph D. Gonnelli as one of the reasons it should get its $15 million deposit back from the would-be seller, Trinity Health.

Gonnelli’s 2016 lawsuit in Superior Court of New Jersey for Camden County — with a damages claim of $23.96 million — centers on the failed development of a $10 million senior center in Piscataway, N.J., for St. Francis LIFE, a health care program for elderly individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

It turned out that Trinity’s New Jersey subsidiaries never had regulatory approval for the Piscataway location and the deal fell apart, leaving Gonnelli with an out-of-pocket cost of $662,500 for work he had done for the senior center, according to Gonnelli’s complaint.

But the damage was much greater, Gonnell’s complaint alleges, because his lender and equity partners pulled out of other deals, costing him millions more in profits on those and future projects. The complaint said Gonnelli’s “real estate career is ended due to sums owed to banks, engineers, lawyers, and joint venture partners.”

Even though Gonnelli’s suit was dismissed on Jan. 5 because of issues with they way he had provided documents, the developer, who built LourdesCare at Cherry Hill, is not conceding.

“I expect it to be reinstated when we meet the judge’s order to put my discovery material in a format they consider acceptable,” Gonnelli said.

A spokeswoman for Trinity said Gonnelli has 60 days from Jan. 5 to provide discovery and refile the complaint: “Until he should fully respond to discovery and refile, the case is considered dismissed.”