Nash family may not drop suit

Mai Hoang

Western officials learned Friday that the family of a 4-year-old girl in need of a bone marrow transplant may not drop a lawsuit they filed against the university in August.

The university filed a motion in U.S. District Court to dismiss the lawsuit after administrators agreed to cover medical and travel expenses associated with the transplant for Presley Nash. Nash is the daughter of Western employee Staci Nash and Bowling Green city commission candidate Brian “Slim” Nash.

But Matthew White, an attorney for the Nash family, wrote in response to Western’s motion that the case should not be dismissed because Western has not yet devoted any funds to the procedure.

“Currently, the plaintiffs have nothing more than the defendants ‘word’ that they will pay for their daughter’s bone marrow transplant, which has not yet occurred,” White said in the response.

Western General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said yesterday that the university has promised in writing that the procedure will be covered by the university’s self-insurance plan.

Wilkins said she sent a letter written by Human Resources director Tony Glisson to Janice Weiss, an attorney for the Nash family, stating the university’s intentions.

In the letter, which was directed to Staci Nash, Presley’s mother, Glisson said, “We have concluded that the plan is obligated to provide in-network benefits for Presley’s proposed procedure.”

Weiss could not be reached for comment yesterday. Last week, she declined to comment on the case.

Western attorney John Grise said he received a letter Thursday from Mark Gray, another attorney for the Nash family, stating that if Western provides “additional documentation” of its promised insurance coverage, the lawsuit will be dropped.

“We intend to give them that additional written confirmation as soon as we find out specifically what they need in terms of additional written confirmation,” Grise said.

Presley Nash’s bone marrow transplant will be performed at the Fairview University Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn.

Grise said Monday that Medical Benefits Administrators, Inc., which runs Western’s health insurance program, notified the hospital in August that it would cover the procedure – which could cost as much as $500,000.

Western will pay for the transplant, travel expenses and legal fees from the pending lawsuit, minus a $1,400 deductible, using funds from the university’s faculty and staff health insurance reserve pool.

Wilkins said the amount paid out of the reserve pool will play a role in how much of an increase faculty and staff will see next year in insurance premiums.

But Presley Nash’s grandmother, Martha Houchin, chair of health sciences at South Campus, said the university has been unfair to the family.

“Is she the only one that’s used insurance?” Houchin asked. “Why is she being singled out?”

Wilkins said although attorneys for the Nash family have asked for additional documentation, she said the response states otherwise.

“I think it’s clear that they’re expecting some monetary payment from the university’s health plan other than the money they are already getting for Presley’s transplant,” Wilkins said.

Houchin said her family is not focused on the lawsuit.

“The future is uncertain, and Presley is a beautiful child who has undergone terrific pain and will have a lot of pain to endure in the future,” she said. ” . They haven’t responded to the media blitz because they are focused on their child.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]