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In re Minority of Calley

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 21, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE MINORITY OF BRIAN L. CALLEY

         On Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana No. P51797, Sec. 23 The Honorable William A. Morvant, Judge Presiding

          Gregory Webb Peter J. Losavio, Jr. Elliot W. Atkinson, Jr. Baton Rouge, LA

          Weldon J. Hill, II Stanley J. Bordelon Baton Rouge, LA

          Kelley R. Dick, Jr. Baton Rouge, LA

          Attorneys for Plaintiffs/ Appellants Clinton D. Calley, Jr. and Deborah B. Calley

          Attorneys for Defendant/ Appellee Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals

          Attorney for Defendant/ Appellee J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          HOLDRIDGE, J.

         This appeal concerns the right of the State of Louisiana, Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH)[1], to reimbursement of Medicaid benefits it paid from a trust. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Brian L. Calley was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on August 16, 1980. Because he was a minor, his parents, Clinton D. Calley, Jr., and Deborah B. Calley, filed a tort suit to recover damages. Funds from the settlement of the lawsuit were used to establish the Calley Trust on June 26, 1989.[2] The settlement and the establishment of the Trust were approved by the district court. Clinton and Deborah were the settlors and the beneficiaries of the Trust. The Trust provided that its income was to be used in part "for the payment of medical or related expenses" incurred by the Calleys for Brian that were not covered by Medicaid. Brian died on October 3, 2015.

         DHH paid Medicaid benefits on behalf of Brian after his accident and throughout his life. On February 25, 2016, after Brian's death, DHH filed a motion for approval of payment from the assets of the Trust.[3] It sought $1, 080, 246.10 in Medicaid benefits paid on behalf of Brian from December 1, 1993 through November 29, 2012; $1, 077, 831.90 represented medical expenses and $2, 594.20 represented Medicare Part B premiums.[4] After a hearing, the district court granted DHH's motion.[5]

         The Calleys appeal the judgment. They urge four assignments of error: the district court erred in interpreting the plain language of Article VIII of the Trust as requiring a payback to the State for paid Medicaid benefits; the district court erred in failing to apply federal law that restricts the right of a state agency to seize assets of a third party to reimburse Medicaid benefits; the district court erred in failing to apply Louisiana law, which has a self-imposed estate only reimbursement tax; and the district court erred in failing to apply federal law that restricts the rights ...


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