N.S. lawyers seek to resolve battle over brain-injured woman's settlement out of court
CTV News has learned lawyers will meet this week to determine whether a battle over a Nova Scotia woman’s insurance settlement can be resolved outside of the legal system.
Both sides have agreed to meet before the next court deadline and Joellan Huntley’s mother says she was pleasantly surprised to hear a meeting had been set.
“Some is better than none. It’s better to talk and come to some kind of an understanding and agreement before going to court again,” says Louise Misner.
She and her ex-husband have been fighting to save the insurance settlement awarded to their daughter, who was left with a severe brain injury after a car crash in the Annapolis Valley in 1996.
In the years following the crash, Huntley received a nearly $1-million settlement. Her daily care at a provincial rehabilitation centre is paid for by the province, while her family receives about $2,500 a month from the trust fund.
Her parents say they use that money to provide extras, like therapy that isn’t available at the rehab centre where 34-year-old Huntley has lived for 17 years.
But now the Nova Scotia government is trying to recover the insurance settlement awarded to Huntley to cover the costs of her care at the rehab centre and has taken her family to court over the matter.
The family’s lawyer, Ray Wagner, will meet with two lawyers from the Nova Scotia Justice Department, as well as some workers from the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, on Thursday.
“I anticipate that we’ll have a lively discussion about the needs of Joellan and the needs of the province,” says Wagner.
He says the outcome will depend on the demands of the province and positions taken.
“I’ll always engage in dialogue and discussion that can save resources and solve issues in an expeditious manner,” says Wagner. “At the same time, I don’t raise hopes.”
After last month’s court hearing, the judge set a deadline of this Friday for lawyers to submit any additional information before he makes his decision. They have asked the judge to extend that deadline, in light of Thursday’s meeting.
The province confirmed it made that request, but wouldn’t comment further before the meeting.
Wagner says Huntley’s case is an important one because she has put a face on the struggles people go through when they are injured in accidents.
“These types of cases get reported across the country and there’s really no common thread in how to deal with this,” he says. “There seems to be a void in legislation in every province.”
Misner says she is simply asking for compassion and common sense.
“That they leave enough to look after her special needs for the rest of her life without causing her anymore problems with her health.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster