Dennis and Kathleen McGonagle thought their need for legal help was finished. But, they soon found themselves needing legal representation again after they were sued by Air Methods, an emergency transport company, for an unpaid portion of an exorbitant medical transport bill. That’s when they contacted LCD.
Referred by Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, the McGonagles first worked with LCD to complete planning documents for their son, Sean, who was paralyzed after he was shot by a troubled individual with a violent past at a tavern in December 2011. In September 2013, Jefferson University Hospital surgeons were removing a bullet from Sean’s spine. His parents were at the hospital for the following two days after the surgery. On the third day after the surgery, Kathleen McGonagle dressed and went to work, where her colleagues immediately grasped that something was amiss.
An ambulance was called and Kathleen was taken to a local hospital. Kathleen was having a massive stroke. Dennis, after being alerted by Kathleen’s colleagues, rushed to the hospital. She was already being prepared for an Air Methods helicopter medevac to Jefferson Hospital. However, the hospital and medevac never discussed her other options or the cost.
Kathleen and Sean were both at the hospital for several weeks and then transferred to Magee for several months. Dennis had to retire early from his job at a union shop paper warehouse in order to coordinate his wife and son’s care. Then, they received the bill from Air Methods for $27,220.89 for a six minute trip.
Dennis approached his union who administered his health plan to see if they could cover any of the bill. Dennis was told by his local that Air Methods billed more than double what competing medevac companies charged. However, out of compassion for what the McGonagles had recently undergone, the local paid 70% of Air Methods fee. Air Methods then sued the McGonagles for the remainder of the bill.
After meeting with the McGonagles, LCD staff attorney Ben Feldman stepped in and filed objections to the complaint. The case was dismissed. However, Air Methods refiled suit and Ben has again filed objections and is awaiting the court’s order.
Ben went beyond his job as an attorney as he worked to be an advocate for the McGonagles. Ben was approached by 6ABC when they were putting together an investigative report, for local and national news, on lawsuits by Air Methods. He coordinated with Wendy Saltzman of 6ABC to bring their story to the forefront of awareness. Wendy Saltzman’s full report can be viewed here.
The McGonagles have endured trauma after trauma, but remain committed to creating a life for their family. They have renovated their home to make it accessible for Sean in the hopes that he can live there for the rest of his life. LCD is working to ensure their future.
UPDATE: As of June 2, 2016, Air Methods has dropped its lawsuit against the McGonagles after discussions with staff attorney Ben Feldman.