Virginia Rehab Center Sues Former Patient in Arkansas After 5 Years of Unpaid Care

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 12:00 am  

“Your obligation to pay our bills is not dependent on the outcome of the court case,” the contract said, with the word “not” underlined. “Whether you win or lose in court, the bill will be paid in full.”

In May 2008, just months after the contract was signed, the Methenys’ lawsuit against the surgeon settled for $1 million. That money was deposited into the Cody R. Metheny Special Needs Trust.

The center said the Methenys didn’t tell the center’s officials that the case had settled, which allegedly constituted a breach of the contract, the lawsuit said.

The benefit of putting the money in the trust is that the trust should be immune from lawsuits, said Jeffrey Minde, an attorney and president of the National Special Needs Network Inc. of Coral Springs, Fla., which is a nationwide affiliation of independent special needs professionals who provide support services.

Minde, who wasn’t familiar with Cody Metheny’s case, said that by using a trust, the disabled person maintains eligibility for government benefits, such as the Supplemental Security Income program. “You can have an unlimited amount of money in the trust and not put yourself over the benefit limits,” Minde said.

The trustee, not the parents, is the one who decides who gets paid with the funds from the trust, he said. “Paying for things like going to a center would be a perfectly acceptable payment for a trust to make,” Minde said.

The Argent Trust Co. of Memphis is the trustee of the Cody R. Metheny Special Needs Trust. It also has been named as a defendant.

Argent Trust, in its court filings, asked U.S. District Court Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. to be dismissed from the case. Argent said in its filing that the lawsuit should be between the Methenys and the center.

“The only contract in this case is between [the center] and the Methenys,” said Argent’s attorney, Kevin Keech of North Little Rock, in his court filing. “Argent is neither a party to, nor guarantor of, that contract.”

Keech declined to comment to Arkansas Business last week.

But Marshall ruled in September that Argent was to stay in the case because it holds the disputed money. “Argent need not do anything other than answer, respond to basic discovery, and wait,” Marshall wrote on Sept. 10.

Jury Award

 

 

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