Nash lawsuit in limbo

Mai Hoang

Western has yet to learn if the family of a four-year-old Bowling Green girl in need of a bone marrow transplant will drop the lawsuit it filed against the university in August.

Brian “Slim” Nash and Western employee Staci Nash filed the suit after HCC Life, which handles Western insurance claims over $75,000, denied coverage for their daughter Presley.

HCC Life claims the Food and Drug Administration classifies the transplant procedure as experimental, and therefore ruled that it would not pay for it.

Western filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last month after administrators agreed to pay for the procedure, minus a $1,400 deductible, using money from the university’s faculty and staff health insurance reserve pool.

The deadline for the Nash family and their attorney Janice Weiss to file a response to Western’s motion was yesterday. Western General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said Western had not received a response from the Nashes or Weiss yesterday afternoon.

The decision by Western to pay for Presley Nash’s transplant, a $500,000 procedure, and the pending lawsuit will cause employee insurance premiums to rise next year, Wilkins said yesterday.

Until the university learns whether the Nash family will drop its lawsuit, administrators are unsure about what that increase could amount to.

Wilkins said until the Nash family responds to the university’s motion for dismissal, Western will not be able to determine employee insurance premiums for the upcoming year.

Any legal fees brought on by the pending lawsuit will be paid for out of the insurance reserve pool. Western has already spent $10,625 in legal fees on the case, Wilkins said.

“In the next 30 days, the university must set its insurance premiums for the following calendar year,” she said. “Without some explanation from the Nashes how much money they want, we have no way of knowing what those premiums should be.”

Brian Nash said earlier this week that the family has raised about $65,000 from community fund raisers. He said all the money will go toward medical costs incurred by the family.

“We fully intend to use the money for what it was raised,” he said.

The Nashes are at a Minnesota hospital where their daughter is receiving treatment.

If the family chooses to put the money it has raised toward medical costs, it may lower the amount the university would have to pay out of the reserve pool, Western attorney John Grise said.

Nash would not comment on the lawsuit and referred all questions to Weiss, who also refused to comment.

Mathematics professor Claus Ernst, a member of Western’s Benefits Committee, said faculty and staff insurance premiums could rise as much as $28.75 per month per employee because of Western’s agreement to pay for the transplant.

But Ernst said the Nash family cannot be blamed for the increase in insurance premiums.

“The point is, if you participate in an insurance plan, the agreement is to share the costs,” he said.

Ernst said he is hopeful that similar lawsuits, like that filed by the Nash family, will not become commonplace. He said Western needs to work with HCC Life to clarify what the company will or will not cover if a large claim is filed in the future.

“There could be such a problem,” he said. “So we will do what it takes not to do it again.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]