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Published: Saturday, 4/30/2011

Judge denies recusal plea from MedCorp

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Toledo’s MedCorp Inc. defaulted on two loans worth $10 million. The co-founder, Richard Bage, alleged comments made by Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook last week showed questionable impartiality. Toledo’s MedCorp Inc. defaulted on two loans worth $10 million. The co-founder, Richard Bage, alleged comments made by Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook last week showed questionable impartiality.
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A court-appointed receiver in the MedCorp Inc. case on Friday faced three hours of questioning about his decision to choose a buyer for the troubled ambulance company, but the judge took no action on a sale of the debt-laden firm.

In fact, Lucas County Common Please Judge Gary Cook himself spent the morning facing questions after John McHugh III, the attorney for MedCorp co-founder Richard Bage, questioned the judge’s impartiality and made an oral motion for the judge to recuse himself from the case.

After an hour recess, Judge Cook denied the motion of Mr. McHugh, who said he would file a formal motion on Monday requesting the judge step down.

Meanwhile, parties in the case agreed to continue the hearing at 9 a.m. Friday, when other attorneys in the case will ask more questions of receiver Mark Uhrich of Hillyer Group LLC.

Mr. Uhrich had asked Judge Cook to approve the sale of MedCorp’s assets to Enhanced Equity Fund LP, of New York City, an equity fund that offered $12.5 million for the company. Another firm, Community Emergency Medical Service of Southfield, Mich., had bid $10.9 million and Mr. Bage bid $9.2 million.


Friday, Mr. McHugh spent the afternoon questioning Mr. Uhrich’s decision to go with Enhanced Equity’s bid. Mr. Uhrich responded that he was trying to end the receivership quickly, but also to “maximize a sale” in accordance with the wishes of Huntington Bank, which requested the receivership in August after MedCorp defaulted on two loans worth $10 million.

On the motion to recuse, Judge Cook said in his view it stemmed from apparent misunderstandings on three issues, including a statement he made last week regarding Mr. Bage getting the opportunity to save the company he built. In response to that plea from Mr. McHugh, the judge said after reviewing transcripts he had replied, “The opportunity to save it has been given and it appears to have passed.”

Judge Cook said “clearly the court has no animosity or bias or anything like that,” and was not implying that Mr. Bage could not submit another bid to buy his company back.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or at 419-724-6128.



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