Mills throws out county claims from insurance scandal

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Lafayette County’s board of supervisors is weighing its legal options after a federal judge said it had no case against the administrator of its employee insurance program.
Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills ruled Thursday that Total Plan Services, the middle man between the county and Trustmark Life Insurance Co., was not liable in a scandal over alleged improper fees paid between the county’s health insurance plan agent, Ken Nowlin, and a sitting supervisor, Gary Massey, who had been the agent before he was elected.
“Based on the information available to the court,” Mills wrote in his opinion, “no reasonable jury” could determine that the county contracted with Total Plan.
Lafayette County brought the lawsuit in August 2007 under the Mississippi Ethics in Government Act. It recently settled with Trustmark, although no information is available about those terms.
The case was set for a jury trial March 15 before Mills.
“Liability under these circumstances is beyond the reach of the Ethics in Government Act,” Mills added in dismissing the case in Total Plan’s favor.
David O’Donnell, the county’s attorney, said they are weighing their options, including an appeal.
Total Plan attorneys could not be reached for comment.
In its original complaint, the county asked the court for Total Plan and Trustmark to give back all profits and commissions it made under the insurance contract, including interest, attorneys fees and other costs.