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Health trust suit settlement is seen

Thursday, July 03, 2014 - Updated: 10:29 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

nicole.antonucci@recordernews.com

FONDA -- A lawsuit filed last year against the Montgomery County Health Trust was settled last week for $125,000.

Benefits Marketing filed a lawsuit in March 2013 alleging breach of contract, but on June 23, company president Pasquale "Pat" Baia had dropped the complaints in exchange for the settlement.

"I wanted to put the issue behind me and not have an ongoing lawsuit," Baia said. "I think it was a fair settlement and it shows that my lawsuit was credible, and not frivolous."

Health trust chairman and Montgomery County Legislature Chairman Thomas Quackenbush said Baia was seeking $1 million in damages from the trust, Montgomery County and the city of Amsterdam.

"It wasn't that they found anything against us," Quackenbush said. "We think it could have been successful, but to continue to fight it would have cost us more in attorney fees and we just wanted to end it."

Baia's attorney Matthew Cocca, of Cocca and Pepe, declined to comment.

"It is a confidential matter," he said.

Kenneth Ayers, trust attorney, said Benefits Marketing claimed that it had a contract with the trust that had been breached.

The lawsuit claimed that the trust entered a three-year contract with Benefits Marketing on Jan. 1, 2012, and made additional reference to a contract with Matrix Quality Care.

The suit said the defendants entered new contracts with Matrix on Jan. 1, and alleged it "had the intentional and unwarranted effect and purpose of excluding [Benefits Marketing] from receiving compensation as a third-party beneficiary for services it performed under the Matrix contract as originally agreed."

Between January and March, the company alleges it was shorted an excess of $11,000, and would lose almost $78,000 for the remainder of the contract period if the alleged breach continued.

As part of the settlement, all parties involved have been released from future litigation.

Quackenbush said now the dissolution of the trust can move forward.

On June 25, the trust board passed a resolution authorizing the disbursement of roughly $1.8 million in excess funds in the trust reserve.

The county is scheduled to receive $1.34 million while the city of Amsterdam will receive $549,000.

With the trust winding down affairs, the only remaining step is to put a dissolution plan in place, which requires three public hearings and public notice.

The board expects to officially adopt the dissolution plan and schedule the first pubic hearing during its next meeting in July.

     

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