Nash settlement approved

Joe Lord

Presley Nash has yet to return to Bowling Green. But one chapter of the four-year-old’s battle with cancer has come to a close.

The settlement between Western, its third-party administrator and employee Staci Nash was approved Friday in U.S. District Court.

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley signed off on the deal, General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said. It brings to an end the lawsuit filed by Nash and her husband, Brian “Slim” Nash, who were seeking coverage for Presley’s bone marrow transplant.

The suit was filed in August. From August until the November settlement, the parties wrangled over what the university should pay based on Staci Nash’s policy and whether the suit should be dropped.

Western will cover costs for the procedure — which after recovery could be as much as $500,000. Food and lodging expenses, as much as $10,000, will also be covered by a reserve pool in the university’s self-insurance plan.

The Nashes are responsible for an annual $400 deductible, $1,000 co-insurance payment and any co-pay incurred from emergency room and medical office visit fees.

John Grise, Western’s attorney, said the settlement was approved without any changes.

“The lawsuit is over,” he said.

The settlement was reached Nov. 18 but needed court approval because it involved a minor, Wilkins said.

“We’re just going forward with business as usual,” she said. “It’s always been our position that we did not do anything inappropriate in the handling of this claim.

“We’re glad it was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.”

The Nash family filed the suit after HCC Life, the university’s reinsurer who handles claims greater than $75,000, denied coverage for Presley’s transplant. HCC Life based its decision on a ruling that the procedure was considered experimental by the Food and Drug Administration.

But university officials chose to cover the transplant with the faculty and staff self-insurance plan after the state insurance bureau advised the university to cover the transplant.

Presley is still hospitalized at Fairview University Medical Center in Minneapolis, said Martha Houchin, Presley’s grandmother and a Western employee. Complications from Presley’s illness have delayed her return home.

Houchin said Presley’s illness has had a traumatic impact on their family.

“It’s definitely devastating, but the doctors have reassured them that the transplant has been very successful and the enzyme she was missing, she now has,” Houchin said. “Of course, anything could happen at this point that could reverse all that.”

Houchin said the family will now try to put the issues surrounding the suit behind them.

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]