Western asks judge for hearing in Nash case

Mai Hoang

Western has asked a U.S. District Court judge for a hearing to discuss the motion it filed in August to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the school over an insurance claim.

Western employee Staci Nash and her husband Brian “Slim” Nash sued Western. Their 4-year-old daughter, Presley, needs a bone marrow transplant.

The family filed suit after HCC Life, which handles Western insurance claims over $75,000, refused to cover Presley’s procedure.

Matthew White, an attorney for the Nash family, responded to the university’s motion last week that the suit should not be overturned because Western has yet to document it will cover the transplant.

In a letter to White Monday, Western attorney John Grise said the university has agreed to pay for all the medical and travel expenses associated with Presley Nash’s transplant – a procedure expected to cost $500,000.

General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said Monday that Western notified the family in writing in August that it would pay for the procedure. She said another letter outlining the university’s intentions will go to the Nashes this week, detailing what Western’s self-insurance plan will cover for the transplant.

Wilkins is hopeful the court will grant Western’s request for a hearing to discuss its dismissal motion. She said the hearing will benefit both parties.

“We believe the appearance in court by both counsels would be helpful to the resolution of the motion,” she said.

Janice Weiss, a lawyer for the Nash family, has refused comment about the lawsuit.

Presley Nash’s grandmother, Martha Houchin, said Monday that Presley’s transplant is scheduled for Oct. 18.

In the meantime, questions about how the transplant will affect the cost of health insurance premiums for faculty and staff in the upcoming year are still unanswered.

Funding for the procedure and court costs are being taken from a faculty and staff self-insurance reserve fund. The use of that money, administrators have said, could cause premiums to increase next year.

But until Western knows how much it will have to pay for the procedure, it cannot know how much premiums will be, Human Resources director Tony Glisson said.

Glisson said open enrollment for faculty and staff health insurance – which happens every October – could be delayed until November.

He said the lawsuit by the Nash family, plus the cost for the transplant, are not the only factors causing the delay. He said other issues, including determining co-pay and deductible rates have also contributed.

“All of those things lumped together just requires that we spend more time evaluating the most favorable options for next year,” Glisson said.

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